'Small-Format' Target Store Planned for North Park

A rendering of the planned North Park location, courtesy of Target. Rendering Courtesy of Target.

San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, known for its small, unique businesses, will add a familiar name to its shopping offerings later this year: a Target store.

The retail giant announced Thursday it plans to open a new “small-format” store this November at 3029 University Ave., near the intersection of University Avenue and Ray Street. The store will open at a site that formerly housed Wang’s North Park, an Asian-fusion restaurant that shuttered in late May 2015 after just a few years in business.

A new Target Express store has opened in the tiny community of South Park. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala speaks with residents about the new addition. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015)

The approximately 35,200-square-foot building has quite the history. It 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.

The large building sticks out in a sea of smaller storefronts in the neighborhood.

According to Target, the North Park location will offer a “curated assortment” of goods to fit the unique character of the community, plus a CVS Pharmacy and order pickup for those who shop online and want to pick up their items at the store.

The site will also offer free parking for customers in lots and paid public parking. The store plans to employ about 50 team members.

The lease signed by Target for a new location at Grape and Fern Streets has some residents demanding transparency. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014)

The store will be modeled after the small location that opened in South Park in October 2015 – another uptown community known for its independent businesses. The company said these types of stores are designed to fit into communities “where a traditional-sized Target store may not fit.”

In its ongoing mission to expand into dense urban neighborhoods, Target plans to operate 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019.

The 2015 opening of South Park’s 19,000-square-foot Target Express location on Grape Street came with its share of concerns from residents and business owners who felt the big-name retailer would detract from the quaint neighborhood’s vibe and appeal.

To that end, the original plans for that location included a Starbucks inside the Target, but the company decided to nix that feature because locals worried it would hurt business for small coffee shops around the neighborhood.

The South Park Target Express is located less than two miles south of where the North Park Target will be.

As far as the North Park store is concerned, Mark Schindele, senior vice president of properties for Target, said the company has discussed the plan with San Diego Councilman Chris Ward, leaders from the North Park Main Street Association, the North Park Planning Committee, the North Community Association and the North Park Historical Society.

"[Target] will continue to partner with local leaders to ensure the spirit of this community is reflected throughout the store assortment and design,” Schindele said in a press release.

NBC 7 reached out to North Park Main Street for comment about the Target location.

Angela Landsberg, the executive director of North Park Main Street, said Target executives have been very accessible and "willing to discuss the needs of North Park businesses and residents" as they plan the store.

She also said that, in its past life as a JCPenney, this building made North Park "a destination for shopping for San Diegans."

The addition of a Target there will help fuel similar growth for the community.

"Target is today’s JCPenney and place where many people go for everyday needs. Our organization supports a thriving business district and we believe that Target will help in propelling this goal for the community," Landsberg told NBC 7.

Helene, a North Park resident who did not want her last name published, said that while the new Target isn't a bad idea, there are other locations nearby, including the South Park Target and Mission Valley store.

"I’m fully aware that it would help the community, however, if you just drive a few minutes south from here, we already have a Target Express in the South Park area," she said. "I don’t want to tell a huge corporation like Target what to do, but I don’t think, ideally, it’s the best idea when you take into account the different economic classes here."

Helene said the site might be better suited for some kind of discount store, movie theatre or community center for people of all ages.

NBC 7 also reached out to Ward for comment.