This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate.
With the recent economic downturn and rising costs of fuel prices, many Americans have started to re-consider their living and personal lifestyle options. Many families and individuals have been moving back into the city, to be closer to work, to have access to public transportation and to be able to walk to city entertainment and shopping venues. Mixed-use developments, consisting of spaces that allow people to live, work, play and stay have become popular and are on the rise in many urban cities.
According to the Congress for New Urbanism, mixed-use urban form was the standard before 1950, but separate-use zoning codes and high-volume road standards subsequently helped to make suburban sprawl today’s default development option. New urbanism provides an opportunity to reverse the course of this sprawl and strengthen the character, livability, and diversity of urban communities. According to the New Urbanism website, this concept promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities. These contain housing, work places, shops, entertainment, schools, parks, and civic facilities essential to the daily lives of the residents, all within easy walking distance of each other.
While the new urbanism concept is not new, many retailers and real estate developers have been re-adapting skills and resources to be able to find ways to appeal to this new urban audience. Retailers have been able to better incorporate elements from new urbanism into design plans.
Target Corporation is one example of a handful of retailers who are responding to the demands of the growing urban communities. July 2012 saw the retailer rolling out their new concept, CityTarget, in a few select urban cities across the U.S. The introduction of CityTarget has allowed the retailer to introduce elements of new urbanism into the market while maintaining its well-known Target brand.
I sat down with Michael Korman, Senior Group Manager of Construction at Target Corporation. Korman is in charge of all new Target stores and remodels in a region that spans from Detroit down to St. Louis and covers all U.S. locations west of these cities. He has been with Target Corporation for 6 years. He began his career as an Owner Site Representative (OSR) then moved into managing a group of owner site representatives before his current position as Senior Group Manager of Construction. Michael has specifically worked on all three of the newly opened CityTarget stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.
When discussing the design concept and differences between CityTarget and their other brands, Korman emphasized that It is important to understand that CityTarget stores are Targets first, and then CityTargets second. Great effort is placed on making the location unique and one that provides great products and services that will offer an enhanced shopping experience for each individual consumer.
Korman adds there are differences between CityTarget stores and other existing Target structures. One primary difference is that CityTarget gives a space (structure) a new life in an old building. Because of the urban design, the layout and total square footage of a CityTarget is much smaller than a traditional Target. CityTarget does have a grocery component and the overall sales floor is smaller. There are also more amenities and products designed to match the needs of the urban guest.
When choosing the best location for a new CityTarget store, a detailed demographic analysis is completed on each potential urban area. The demographic analysis provides a basis for site selection, but physical location is another factor that needs to be viable for the concept to work. Because of the smaller size of most CityTarget stores, some stock facilities need to be housed off-site, so distribution needs to be factored into the equation. Other factors included in site selection include parking. CityTarget stores have a lot fewer (if any) parking stalls compared to a traditional Target. Target Corporation has also taken cues from the European markets and other well-known urban retailers when designing the CityTarget concept. These countries and retailers have been very familiar with the urban landscape for a length of time.
While not branded as a new urbanism project, CityTarget has many elements that are in line with the New Urbanism concepts. New Urbanism highlights 10 Principles of the New Urbanism concept I have included 5 of those concepts here and show how CityTarget stores have elements that focus on these principles.
PRINCIPLES OF NEW URBANISM
- CityTarget stores are located in heavily populated urban areas (many in the downtown core/central business district) and are surrounded by other amenities that urban dwellers and workers frequent on a daily basis. The proximity of CityTarget to residential buildings and work spaces makes it a very ideal location to access by foot.
- Because of their location in urban areas, CityTarget stores are only a few steps away from many nodes of public transportation (train, bus, bike racks and more), allowing ease of connections to other places in the city. One specific CityTarget is built above the stop of an underground public train station.
- The Seattle location is very close to Pike Place Market and in close proximity to a Hard Rock Café and residential units. The Chicago site is located near a host of shopping and destination retail centers, allowing residents to take advantage of all the offerings by foot.
Quality architecture and Urban Design
- The Chicago site can be found within the Sullivan Center, home to the former Carson, Pirie and Scott Company and department store. It is an iconic building that has been architecturally restored, and now houses the Target brand. While other retailers make similar attempts to reduce the size of their layout, CityTarget takes into account special consideration of the history of the building. In the Chicago CityTarget, much work and detail was placed on restoring the infrastructure and column caps. The building has received many positive architectural reviews since completion.
- In Seattle, CityTarget, along with other new retail shops, has helped to transform a once blighted area into an area of attraction not only for workers, but for residents and tourists as well.