For Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez, voting to approve a $4 million incentives package to secure a new downtown Target store was an easy choice.
“I like the concept of the small format,” says Lopez of the 28,000 square-foot store that will open next summer at the corner of 16th and California streets.
“That means you don’t have to have a piece of property that needs one hundred or 200 parking spaces,” he says. “And in urban areas like Denver, that’s important.”
But Lopez says he is even more enthused that the new Target store, to open in a three-story building that has been half-used for the last decade, will provide a source of food for residents and workers in downtown Denver.
“People need access to fresh goods and groceries, and they shouldn’t have to drive miles just to get that,” he says. “This is an important determinant of the overall health of a community. It’s a huge problem when the only access to food is a corner convenience store that just sells potato chips and soda.”
The announcement earlier this year that Target was opening a small-format store in downtown Denver that will offer a variety of fresh produce, health supplies, beauty products, and home office supplies, among other staples, is just a part of a larger strategy reaffirming the Minneapolis-based corporation’s faith in actual buildings.
“Our small-format store design has enabled us to open our doors in neighborhoods and communities that couldn’t accommodate a big box footprint and serve new guests close to home,” says Liz Hancock, a senior public relations associate at Target.
As currently planned, Target will open and operate some 130 new small-format stores nationally by the end of 2019. Those stores will typically measure anywhere from 12,000 to 80,000 square feet, far smaller than the average Target store size of 135,000 square feet.
A majority of all the 32 new Target stores the company opened this year are small-format. “And in 2018 we’ve announced we’ll open approximately 35 stores,” says Hancock.
Probably the most visible Target small-format store opened in New York in October.
The two-story, 43,000 square-foot store, one of three small format Target operations opening this fall in the New York City area, symbolizes a Target strategy, noted the New York Times, that “stands out at a time when just about everyone else seems to be questioning the relevance of brick-and-mortar retail.”
At the opening of that store, Target Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell remarked, “This is really a symbol of the future of the company.”
He added that in developing and building additional small format stores in other cities, “We’re simply following the consumer.”
Because of the more modest dimensions of the smaller format stores, they can more naturally be built on smaller lot sizes, or infill sites, that are typical in dense urban areas.
Or they can be carved out in an existing structure, as is the case with the new Denver store, which is going up in a building that already houses several restaurants.
“This is particularly a good thing, because they are using a space that was vacant,” says Lopez.
In turn, the Denver City Council approved $2 million in Target tenant improvements for what is called the California Mall building, on top of letting Target get back, over time, half the sales and use tax revenue generated at the site.
With roots reaching back more than a century, Target did not become the chain it is recognized as today until the year 2000, operating more than 1,000 stores in the next decade and growing to the point where it has since almost doubled that number.
With a particularly positive reputation among younger consumers, the company has this year also opened small format stores in college towns, emphasizing tech accessories and school supplies, along with apparel, dorm décor, and healthy snack items.
Future Target plans, says Hancock, include “increasing our investment to reimagine more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, enhancing the guest experience with the next generation of store design.”
Those stores, adds Hancock, “will feature Target’s most ambitious store redesign to date,” with “modernized design elements and bringing more technology and digital experience to our stores to give an experience that’s easy and inspiring.”
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