|Target Targets Richmond Site
October 1, 2002
The following story about a prospective Target store in Richmond appeared in the September 30, 2002, issue of the San Francisco Business Times. Cities typically salivate over big box stores for the sales tax income they bring in. In this case, the City of Richmond is not just salivating, it has, according to the author, established a "red team" to respond to Target's needs. The story quotes Assistant City Manager for Community and Economic Development Jay Corey as describing the Red Team as “an interdepartmental group of individuals from our staff, all committed to making sure Target gets the questions it needs answered and that project coordination is done in a timely fashion.”
Although it is laudable that Richmond would make special efforts to entice new retail businesses, it should be noted that no special effort would be required if Richmond’s Planning department were not already on life support. It would be nice if everyone, not just big boxes, would receive a level of service in permit processing consistent with competing cities in the Bay Area.
It would also be nice if Richmond would establish “red teams” to address the myriad quality of life issues in our city, like the failure to implement Community Oriented Policing, the failure to enforce blight abatement ordinances, the failure to enforce liquor store licensing regulations, the lack of restrooms in our parks, the 19 inch x 24 inch street sweeping signs, six to a block, and on and on.
The Target project has been known to the City Council and City staff for some time, but has heretofore not been announced to the general public. Real estate professionals tell me that the public discussion of the project by the Assistant City Manager for Community and Economic Development Jay Corey could be a setback for the project instead of a boost. Target did not want the project publicized until after real estate acquisitions had been completed and other strategic decisions were in place. Notice that, unlike Corey, real estate broker John Troughton was able to hold his tongue, and Target, likewise, refused to comment.
While the City has been falling all over itself to bring this project to Richmond, I have been asking for some activity by our staff to provide a planning context to make the entire development a good, pedestrian oriented eastern anchor for Macdonald Avenue, consistent with the Ahwahnee principals adopted by the City Council last year. But there is little interest in good planning, just in greasing the skids for the project.
Target aims for Richmond site
Target Corp. has its sights set on Richmond.
The Minneapolis-based discount retail chain, which already owns a shuttered Montgomery Ward store along Macdonald Avenue, has been quietly buying up nearby property and initiated design discussions with the city regarding a new namesake store at that location.
"They're in the site-assembly phase," said Jay Corey, Richmond's assistant city manager for community and economic development. "They're currently talking to us about expediting the development review process."
Sources say that if the company builds a new store in Richmond, an existing Target store on San Pablo Avenue in nearby El Cerrito, may be replaced by a Mervyn's store, a chain also owned by Target Corp.
Last year, the discount retail chain bought 35 Montgomery Ward stores, a portfolio of real estate available after that company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2000. That included the Montgomery Ward on Macdonald Avenue, just west of Interstate 80 in Richmond.
The company didn't initially plan to build a Target at the Richmond site, but took a second look after extensive city discussions prompted by City Manager Isiah Turner, sources said.
Corey wouldn't say whether those discussions included incentive offers for the Macdonald Avenue project, which lies in a redevelopment zone. But the city did establish a "red team" to respond to Target's needs.
"(The team) is an interdepartmental group of individuals from our staff, all committed to making sure Target gets the questions it needs answered and that project coordination is done in a timely fashion," Corey said.
Last month, Target purchased 4500 Macdonald Ave., a 5,000-square-foot building nearby, through a limited liability partnership. Corey said the company is currently negotiating the purchase of several small properties near the Montgomery Ward store.
John Troughton, a Cushman & Wakefield broker who represents several properties in the area, wouldn't comment for the story. A Target spokeswoman said: "We've made no plans and no commitments and it's too premature to comment."