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Target Says New Store Will Fit Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, November 04, 2010, at 11:34AM
Target Lease Signing Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Target's Carmen Moch and Brookfield Properties' Bert Dezzutti shake hands after their lease signing as Councilwoman Jan Perry and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa applaud.

When Target opens its new store at 7+Fig in late 2012, the location will represent the company's new approach to urban retailing.

"More than ever, we're recognizing that one size does not fit all," said Carmen Moch, group vice president at Target, at a Thursday morning press conference and lease signing attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Jan Perry.

That means creating a store that works for Downtown both in terms of design and in the products carried. "The assortment will be tailored to the urbanite," Moch explained. "We recognize that our guests aren't going to be walking out with patio furniture."

The 104,000-square-foot store that was officially announced on Wednesday has been a long time coming for Downtown. The deal is the central city's largest retail lease since the 7+Fig complex signed Bullock's and Robinson's department stores before opening in 1986.

"This commitment to Downtown Los Angeles is a commitment, I think, that acknowledges and recognizes that you're seeing a transformation here in Downtown," Villaraigosa said.

"I think that we can now claim that Downtown is the bustling city center that it deserves to be," said Perry. "We had been missing this key component, and that component is the retail."

The store will occupy the middle level of the 7+Fig complex, taking space that formerly was split between the two department stores. It will also have an entrance on the complex's lowest level, which is connected to the 1,600-space parking garage.

Ralphs' 2007 return to Downtown was a major milestone for the neighborhood, and was cited several times during the morning press conference. The new Target will give the grocer its first major competition.

"We will have soft lines, which are the clothing and the home goods, but we will also have food," Moch said.

The company expects the customers to have different shopping patterns than those who visit its traditional stores. The store's planning will acknowledge that most shoppers will be arriving on foot, Moch said, and will be designed around multiple small trips rather than single, large visits.

The 330,000-square-foot 7+Fig complex has been saddled with growing vacancy since the 1990's. Bullock's closed in 1997 and the former Robinson's, by then a Macy's, shuttered in early 2009.

While it was no real secret that owner Brookfield Properties was in talks with Target to come into the space, the dragged-out deal left some in Downtown wondering if it would ever really happen.

According to Bert Dezzutti, senior vice president with Brookfield's Southern California office, the delay was unavoidable.

"This is the first step of the repositioning of the center," said Bert Dezzutti, senior vice president with Brookfield's Southern California office. "There's a lot that goes on with that, and we wanted to do it right. Downtown deserves a project that is well thought-through, that contemplates everything that Target needs and the community needs."

"[We] would have loved to open a store earlier, but that's just not the reality."

Plans for the overall renovation of the complex will be announced "very soon," Dezzutti said. "Target is a tremendous anchor and a brand that other great brands want to be around."

The company has high hopes for the complex, which is located across the street from the 7th & Metro subway station, one of the two busiest stations in the growing Metro rail system.

"An important element of what will make this Target store and this center successful for years to come is that it is at the center of the transit hub in Downtown Los Angeles," Dezzutti said. "The way people shop and live their lives is changing so dramatically Downtown that [this deal] couldn't have come at a better time."

Brookfield owns approximately 3.7 million square feet of commercial office space in Downtown, spread between 7+Fig, the 725 S. Figueroa office tower, the 601 S. Figueroa tower and Bank of America Plaza.

That last complex could be the next to see a significant development.

"There may be some announcements, but we're really premature on that," Dezzutti said. "Our focus right now is on maximizing the asset that we have at 7th and Figueroa Street, and this is going to be the beginning of that process."


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