Icon or eyesore? When it comes to this unusual mural in North Park, it depends on who you ask.
"Weenasaurus Rex" as the mural has been dubbed, was painted on the structure of what formerly housed Wang’s North Park, an Asian-fusion restaurant that shuttered in late May 2015 after just a few years in business.
Now, a "small format" Target store is prepping to move into the approximately 35,200-square-foot building on the corner of University Avenue and Ray Street in November and is considering painting over the mural.
An online petition was created by members of the community to urge Target to keep Weenasaurus Rex, which depicts a fuzzy red monster riding a running pink, blue and purple T-Rex.
"This mural is a landmark. It delights people of all ages and Is better served proudly displayed as it always has been," reads the petition, which has gathered thousands of signatures so far.
the artist behind the mural, who goes by Madsteez, recently posted on social media that he's saddened by the plans to paint over Weenasaurus Rex, "Not only because it's my favorite mural but because I watched the entire North Park San Diego community blossom colorfully over the years & I'm proud to have been a part of that transformation."
The company says they hope to seek out local perspectives for a possible new mural that would represent the spirit of North Park.
Target spokesperson Erin Conroy said they have connected with the North Park Planning Committee and North Park Main Street as well as local artists for their input.
Conroy did not specify which local artists they have reached out to so far but said they are continuing to seek out local partners.
"It is common for us to commission a local artist to create artwork in or on our stores as we open new locations across the country, and we partner closely with local leaders to ensure our building fit in with the fabric of the community," Conroy said.
Greg Schloss who works at nearby A&B Sporting Goods said residents should be wary of scaring off a business like Target with outrage over the existing mural.
"They're doing a very good job of renovating a very ugly, vacant building and without a store like that, I really don't know whoever could have come in and taken it over," Schloss said.
The new Target store is expected to open this November and offer what store officials call a "curated" assortment of goods that will fit the unique character of the community. The Target will have a CVS Pharmacy and order pickup as well.
The building began as a JCPenney department store in 1942 that operated for three decades. The building went on to house other retail stores but, eventually, sat vacant from 2008 until Wang’s took over in early 2012.