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Targeting Changes in Big Box Stores

November 25, 2005 Big Box, Books, Downtown, Planning & Design 7 Comments

The October/November issue of New Urban News has a nice article on Target stores:

Until recently, all Target stores were the typical single-story boxes with surface parking. But in the last half-decade, Target has built or acquired 35 multilevel stores with structured parking and another 8 stores with parking underneath. In all, about 3 percent of Target’s 1,350 stores nationwide have unusual urban formats that Target calls “unique.”

The full article is brief but highly recommended.

One of the key messages from this article is Target and other retailers change from their standard big box and big parking when forced to. But the stores are also a success with higher sales to offset their higher development and operating costs. While the new Target at Hampton & Chippewa is okay it is not the urban model we should have downtown.

As much as I want to support local retailers I do think a single Target in the downtown area would be good for both the retailer and the downtown residents. Some may suggest the ever changing St. Louis Centre shopping mall but I was thinking further West — somewhere between Tucker (12th) and Jefferson, North of Market and South of Dr. ML King Drive. We’ve got a number of vacant city blocks that would be excellent for such a store.

One of the main problems with newer stores is the lack of windows along the sidewalk either to the sales floor or window displays. Some solutions mentioned in the story is newer versions of displays that might include media but what I like most are called “liner stores” — smaller stores that line the sidewalk to create interest.

We are thankfully witnessing the beginning of the end of the big box store in a sea of parking. Yet not far from me the already obsolete Loughborough Commons is being built — complete with two big boxes, more parking than required by code, and several outparcels. The whole site faces the all mighty interstate and backs to the adjacent residential. We need more enlightened developers, or just more enlightened elected officials to force developers to give us good design over sprawl.

– Steve


Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Michael says:

    We also need truly enlightened planners in the appointed positions at the Planning and Urban Design Commission and the St. Louis Development Corporation. Those people have a lot of power, and many of them are still ridiculously obssessed with parking! A good city planner should challenge elected officials at every turn.

  2. Dionna says:

    This one is fantastic!!!! Wouldn’t this be great downtown???

  3. Rich says:

    I’m catching up on the news and just read that the lone hold out of the obsolete Loughborough Commons decided to sell. Funny how this only made it in the Southside Joural and not the STLPD or local news channels. If it made the latter two I sure didn’t hear anything about it?

  4. Matthew Hicks says:

    I think Saint Louis is certainly ready for a second Target located in downtown, and it would send one more signal to would-be independent retailers and shoppers alike that downtown’s renaissance is in full swing.

    The new Hampton Village store is a vast improvement compared to its predecessor, and I like the store’s overall design, but the lack of true urban scale was a bit of a letdown.

    I’d love to see a new Target in the heart of downtown, preferably near Famous-Barr (Macy’s) to breathe some new life into downtown’s traditional retail core. It could be part of a heavily revamped Saint Louis Centre, but I’d really like to see it take the first two floors of the former Stix, Baer & Fuller (Dillard’s) building. Other tenants could use entrances and display windows facing the street to complement Target and to reduce the big box effect.

    It’s also time, in my opinion, for city leaders and planners to stop selling Saint Louis short. We need to demand that stores conform to the urban environment, not the other way around. I live a few blocks north of Loughborough Commons, and I fear it will be an utter disappointment not unlike the absolutely dreadful Southtown Centre.

    My wife and I left South County three years ago because we realized we would be happier in an urban setting, and we spent the majority of our free time within the city proper anyway. My wife is a city native and wanted to return, and the more I was exposed to the city’s neighborhoods and great architecture, I fell in love with it as well. But if our neighborhood someday begins to resemble Oakville, I’ll wonder why we even bothered to move.

    Saint Louis doesn’t have to capitulate to big box retailers anymore- they see the city’s upward trends and they truly want to be here. It’s time for our mayor, aldermen, and planners to start saying “no thanks” to developers that refuse to use the best practices that have been successful in similar settings elsewhere.

  5. Brian says:

    The Hampton Target is the best you could expect, given the strong precedent of auto-oriented patterns in its greater Hampton Village vicinity.

    However, when looking at locations in or near Downtown, any traditional big-box retailer, whether Target, Borders or another, should give strong consideration for a more pedestrian-oriented fabric as it will benefit both its surroundings and its bottom-line by attracting more walk-in patrons.

  6. dc says:

    Applying a checklist like
    * multi-story
    * windows face sidewalk
    is insufficient.

    CVS store:

    ‘this abortion was the product of an extensive
    year-long design review process in our town. It
    illustrates the failures of architectural
    guidelines as opposed to enforcable ordinances.

    The Design Review Commission demanded a two story
    building. What was actually delivered, however, is
    a ground floor half a story above grade — with no
    street level entrance — and the second floor in
    the basement. You can’t get it more wrong than


  7. The Hampton Target at least gets my kudos for rebuilding and expanding on the same site without taking any land from the surrounding neighborhood. Here in Milwaukee, we just lost a historic neighborhood bar and several older houses for a new Walgreen’s… which is replacing an older on across the street. They call this “progress”.

    As an aside, there are some chunks of St. Louis that I don’t believe will *ever* be truly pedestrian friendly, because the streets themselves are simply too wide, with the result that there are too many cars driving too fast. South Kingshighway is one, and that part of Hampton and Chippewa is another.

    [REPLY – New Urbanists all over the country are showing how wide & fast streets can be urbanized. Hope does exist for Kingshighway, Chippewa, and Hampton. We just have to let ourselves accept that things can be different and not so auto dominate. – SLP]


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