Midway Super Target

Development within the heart of downtown Saint Paul

Midway Super Target

Postby MidwayMadness » Thu May 18, 2006 10:26 am

This has been an ongoing ordeal this past year. The neighborhood is pushing for a TOD design where as Target is trying to limit thier cost while appeasing some neighbors. If Target builds this store it could easily be the best looking in the company. Interesting story.

Midway Target hits new snags
Council stalls vote as objections arise
BY JASON HOPPIN
Pioneer Press
Thu, May. 18, 2006

When the St. Paul City Council began its regular meeting Wednesday, most council members believed there was an agreement for Target Corp. to build the first urban SuperTarget in the Twin Cities.

Things quickly unraveled.

By the end of the meeting, Council Member Jay Benanav asked to delay the vote one week on behalf of fellow Council Member Debbie Montgomery, who was huddled in her office with several Target representatives. The two spearheaded a last-ditch effort to win several commitments — such as set percentages of minority contractors — from the retailing giant in exchange for the right to build a 184,000-square-foot grocery and retail outlet in St. Paul's Midway area.

"If Target doesn't move off their current position, I'm not going to vote for it," Benanav said after the meeting. "I was sitting in the council meeting thinking it was done. … They had given up enough that I was ready to support it."

Benanav would not say just why the vote was delayed, but it appears to be over the wording of a resolution approving the deal.

Target representatives left City Hall without commenting, but the company released a strongly worded statement later in the evening.

"We are disappointed that at the 11th hour the City Council delayed approval on the site plan for the Midway SuperTarget. In our experience, we've never been subjected to such unrelated mandates placed upon a $30 million privately financed project," the company said, adding that it worked with the community and that the project would benefit the area.

"We have serious concerns when elected officials use that process to limit competition or pursue agendum that works to the detriment of the guests and communities that we strive to serve. … Further delays and such mandates will jeopardize this project."


Nevertheless, Montgomery said the deal will get done.

"I guarantee you we'll get it worked out by next week," Montgomery said.

Target is seeking to replace its current Midway store with a larger SuperTarget, which feature grocery items. The controversial project has been the subject of appeals, delays and even a protest. The City Council postponed a May 3 vote in a last-ditch effort to come up with a plan that was more pedestrian and public-transit friendly. Over the last several days, Target offered several changes that seemed to meet those goals.

The company agreed to bisect its parking lot with a tree-lined sidewalk, build a plaza and bus stop along Hamline Avenue and sell property along University Avenue for future development, possibly including a hotel. The company added trees to the site plan as well as display windows along Hamline, according to a council resolution version reviewed by the Pioneer Press.

Although community activists see Target's concessions as a step in the right direction, not all are happy with the plans.

"It's really not much. It's essentially a longer sidewalk," said Jessica Treat, executive director of the Lexington-Hamline Community Council, one of three groups that appealed to the council the Planning Commission's March approval of the SuperTarget project.

Those issues do not appear to have caused the snafu, but the company's statement also suggests that the City Council might not want Target to sell the property along University to the highest bidder, instead opting for a preferred tenant.

According to the resolution, Target made several other concessions, including agreeing to hire 80 percent of its employees from the Midway area and contribute $200,000 toward the city's Safe Cities program. The resolution also stated that Target would work with Xcel Energy to come up with an energy-efficient building design. What percentage of minority contractors the deal would mandate, though, was unclear Wednesday night. A final resolution was never introduced.

But the union-free retailer made few concessions on the labor front. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 leader Bernie Hesse, who represents employees at nearby Cub Foods and Rainbow Foods, said competition from a SuperTarget could devastate those grocery stores. Local 789 also appealed the Planning Commission's decision.

Hesse lobbied council members to press Target for the right to try to organize Midway Target workers, but was unsuccessful. He led a Wednesday morning protest outside Target's Nicollet Mall headquarters in Minneapolis.

"I take this to heart, because they're wiping out some good jobs and replacing them with low-paying jobs," Hesse said.

Employees at nearby groceries are worried about the impact of a SuperTarget. Nate Prokop, an assistant store manager at the Midway Rainbow, said he expects to lose business if the store is built. However, there are no known plans to close the Rainbow.

"We give good wages to our employees so they can support families," Prokop said. "That right there is an incentive not to kill Rainbow and Cub."

Target also has found itself in a debate over the future of University Avenue. With the potential for a light-rail transit line running down the commercial artery, community activists and several members of the City Council want to avoid sprawling, suburban-style buildings in favor of higher-density, transit-oriented development.

Community planning groups such as University United — the third organization to appeal the Planning Commission's decision — tried without success to get Target to build a second story, put in a parking ramp and sell more property for development.


Jason Hoppin can be reached at jhoppin@pioneerpress.com or 651-292-1892.
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Postby MidwayMadness » Thu May 25, 2006 11:58 am

Well it passed. An interesting design change they made is to have a wall of glass with displays along Hamline. It will be interesting how nice the final product will look.

Council OKs Target project
May. 25, 2006

Target Corp. won the right to expand its Midway store Wednesday when the St. Paul City Council voted unanimously to approve the project after weeks of delays.

During last-minute negotiations, the Minneapolis-based retailer agreed to significantly alter the design of the Twin Cities' first urban SuperTarget. The parking lot will be divided with tree-lined walkways, a new road and bike path will run parallel to University Avenue, and a variety of building materials — including glass — will be used to make the 186,000-square-foot store more visually appealing.

The issue evolved into a proxy fight for the future of University Avenue. With the potential for a light-rail transit line, everyone from the mayor to community groups wants more pedestrian-friendly development there, and Target's plans were attacked as a sprawling, suburban-style box.

Although Target had little to gain, representatives agreed to sit down with Council Members Jay Benanav and Debbie Montgomery and tweak their plans. The new design now includes bike racks and a new bus stop along Hamline Avenue, and the company has agreed to sell lots fronting University Avenue for further development.

The company will demolish the former Four Points by Sheraton hotel, located behind its current store at Hamline and University avenues. The current store will remain open until next summer, a few months before the SuperTarget is completed. It will then be torn down to make way for the parking lot. The project is expected to cost $30 million and could add more than 100 jobs at the Midway location.

Not everyone is happy with the outcome. The SuperTarget will sell groceries, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 organizer Bernie Hesse said Target, which is not unionized, may cost union jobs at nearby Cub Foods and Rainbow Foods.

Local 789 was one of three groups to appeal the Planning Commission's approval of the project. The community planning group University United, a strong proponent of transit-oriented development, was another.
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Postby MidwayMadness » Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:11 pm

Found some renderings of the new Target. Demolition of the old hotel should start sometime this summer.

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Postby MNdude111 » Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:17 pm

Definitely not the most flattering target, but when your designing an ugly big box building you really can't "mix it up a bit". Designing buildings for target would not be the job for me if I was an architect.
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Postby nickmgray » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:00 pm

When I was in Tampa last month for work, we stopped at a strip mall for get some lunch on our way to the airport. The strip mall was more like an an shopping mall turned inside out.

The were your typical department stores/small shops/ restaurants/and a Target store. All of the shopes has sidewalk entrances and instead of having a huge parking lot, the were all connected in the back to a parking rams.

I wish I had my camera with me. I didn't get the change to go into the Target store to see if they layout was any different, but I'm sure it was since they had evevators to the ramp.
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Postby Seth » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:11 pm

Looks kinda small doesn't it? :wink:

It's really too bad that it's not "cost effective" for them to do two story Super Centers. Would save so much space.
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Postby nickmgray » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:42 pm

One thing that I really have not seen here in the states is rooftop parking. The few malls and larger grocery stores in Italy seem to favore this type of parking since they do not have much space available to use.

Does anyone know what the cost would be to add this type of parking to a Target sotre?
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Postby talindsay » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:45 pm

I don't know, I think this is a big turd and it totally disgusts me that I'll probably end up doing a quarter of my grocery shopping there when it's done. I can't believe that after all the holdup and maneuvering this is all the city accomplished. The downtown Target in Minneapolis is attractive and definitely out of the Target mold; this location deserved that too.

This will be two big walls of cement along two of the busiest streets in the cities. They could have done all sorts of things to make this more pleasant from the street - I don't care how pretty the flat parking lot is, it's still a flat parking lot in the middle of an area that's supposed to be getting redeveloped for higher density.

What crap.
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Postby Nordeast Homer » Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:23 pm

nickmgray wrote:Does anyone know what the cost would be to add this type of parking to a Target sotre?



I'm guessing it would literally more than double the cost of the store. Right now they only have to support HVAC units and snow load. The cost of the steel alone would be outrageous. It would almost have to be done with precast, but then they'd basically have to comepletely redesign their store and layout.(not that it would be a bad thing)
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Postby jchester05 » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:04 pm

I'm sorry but that Target is junk!

They should save the big camera track in the current one because they're going to need it for the two big drug deal alleys this will create on either side of it. You'll never catch normal people using the 'tree lined' sidewalk from the train to the store. . too scary.

So so so sorry. Such bad design from the store that is "all about design".
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Postby Dreamin » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:16 am

The front has certain aspects to it that are pretty cool. The height is broken up, they are using different facades to show these breaks. I rather like it retro 60's style. Now I'm stricktly speaking of the front. The rest of the sides look like giant walls. Not very inviting and completely uninviting and unurban. At the very least there should be windows along Hamline Ave as well. I don't know why they shouldn't be able too have windows that look in on what's going on in the store. If there is any sort of cafeteria or fast food establishments they could place their seating along those windows.
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Postby HiawathaGuy » Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:58 am

Since I opened two new Target stores as a manager for Target when I worked for them, I feel I can speak to some of these items a little bit. The goal with opening a new store is to have it resemble the rest of the stores. It's obvious, judging by most people's responses on this topic that that's not what you want. However, countless studies of Target shoppers have proven otherwise. It is far more economical for Target to build stores that are similar in design- that way the layout of the store isn't confusing to the 'guest'. I personally think that this design is a nicer version of their Super Target designs. They did not receive any money from St Paul to build this store- so really they didn't need to change anything about the store. The back of this building will be up against 94, which I think is better than the current store. And the idea that the tree lined walkway from University to the front of the store will be 'scary' is just ludicrous. Go to any Super Target (or large box grocery/retail store) and watch how many people are always in the parking lot. It shouldn't just be up to Target to 'police' the activities that happen around the property. If we, the consumers, allow the few who might want to use this area for drug use or other crimes and don't demand St Paul police to do something more- than shame on us! I don't believe that this in any way will create drug alleys on the sides of the buildings... that seems a bit over dramatized to me.

Dream'n, the window ideas on the sides would be very difficult to incorporate, due to all the grocery coolers & stockroom lining the one side of the store, and the electronics & hardware departments on the other. The space they'd lose to add windows could not justify the costs. As we know from all developments- cost is everything.

I think that this area will be 10 times better than it currently is when finished- and that the LRT along University will help with bringing more people and eyes to the area.
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Postby talindsay » Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:10 am

HiawathaGuy, I completely understand *why* Target wants all the stores to be roughly the same. And I completely understand why that may be comforting to Target guests. It's Target's prerogative to want that. But it's absolutely at odds with the principles that should be guiding the development of University Ave right now, and I believe it's the city's prerogative (which, by the way, they seem to be afraid to exercise) not to allow big business' desires to save money to be the guiding principle for urban design. We'd have a pretty ugly city if companies were allowed to build what they liked. I say shame on St. Paul for not telling Target that they had to make this fit in with the principles of redevelopment on University.


Obviously, Target *can* design a store in a million different configurations - see downtown Minneapolis. They don't want to because it's cheaper for them and it makes their customers more comfortable if they're all the same. But the city can tell them, without contributing any money whatsoever to the project, that they have to meet urban planning goals - then Target has the choice to pay more money for construction, or not build the store. Both fine choices in my opinion, and both preferable to an ugly big box here. Target then has to decide whether the potential business in the area is worth the added cost. Target plays hardball with cities all the time; I think St. Paul should have played hardball back. I understand and appreciate why Target wants what they want; I just don't give a damn.
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Postby HiawathaGuy » Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:19 am

You are absolutely right Tom... I just wanted to make my voice heard that I don't blame Target. Right, wrong or indifferent- they played hard, the city did not. I think this store will still fit fine into the urban landscape of the new University Avenue that we will see develop over the next 5 to 10 years. Just for the record too, I opened the downtown Minneapolis Target... it's not a convienent store for the guests or the employees. Sometimes, city 'rules' don't make a project better. It may *look* nicer, but I think a quality store should also be able to function efficiently (which is difficult at the downtown store).

Again, it is my opinion that this new store will be a great addition to the area and I don't feel bad about that. It cracks me up to hear so many people complaining about big box stores, yet the reason Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. are building them is because we continue to keep flocking to them. They are a product of our own demand.

It would have been nice to see St Paul tell Target "NO" to this design, and see if they really walked away from building a new store. I think they might have for a while- but also think that ultimately they would have built a more urban-friendly design, like Tom mentioned. But this is, in a way, just another form of NIMBY.
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Postby talindsay » Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:41 am

Yes, you're right it's a certain type of NIMBYism, and you're also right that these stores are a product of our demand. I have a conflicted love-hate relationship with all the big-box stores except Wal-Mart - which I have an unconflicted hate relationship with. I just hate to see wasted space and poor design in the middle of an area that seems to be on the verge of a major increase in density and development.

Literally everybody, including all of us on this board, has opinions about what sorts of things they *do* and *don't* want in their backyards, which is one reason I hate the "F**k NIMBYs" kind of statements. It's not really about NIMBY, it's about what vision people have for the future of where they live. Most of the time, the NIMBY argument is used to keep areas low-density and less developed, hence the reason a bunch of skyscraper and urban-development enthusiasts think they hate NIMBYs. But we have our own NIMBY issues, which just happen to be almost the reverse of the more common ones. It's a problem of perspective.
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