The prospect of a Target store downtown has become something of an urban legend. Rumors have resurfaced repeatedly over the years, but the notion isn’t just a vestige of earlier excitement about downtown’s potential. While Ikea has pushed an urban Target off of our radar, some city planners have kept it on theirs. In fact, there’s a renewed sense of hope. Here’s why:
1. IUPUI could attract a mini Target. The company plans to operate 130 of its smaller, urban stores by 2019. There are about 50 of the formerly named TargetExpress and City Target locations right now, and lately, the company has been opening them near city colleges, including the University of Cincinnati. The condensed stores cater to the campus demo with groceries and school supplies, but we’d love even a CliffsNotes version of Target.
2. A new funding source might help woo Target. Downtown Indy, Inc. just began circulating petitions to create an economic improvement district in the Mile Square. An EID is like an HOA for property owners, both residential and commercial. The $3 million annual kitty would go toward improvements the city itself isn’t getting around to. While more security and park activities are top priorities, surveys show downtowners also want more retail. Some EID funds could pay for updated demographic research and marketing efforts to lure major retailers. According to Catherine Esselman, DII’s retail development director, a lot of brands still use data from the 2010 census. Target has its own data team, she says, but Indy could put current numbers in that team’s hands and help steer the company’s attention toward downtown. Indy is one of the largest cities in the country without an EID. Even Goshen and Greencastle have one.
3. Improving downtown shopping is a priority. At least for DII. Esselman is working to persuade the mayor’s office to team up and make a bigger play for recognizable brands by creating sexy promotional materials and pitching companies at trade events. The opening of Whole Foods—now slated for the first quarter of 2018—should help, Esselman says, because retailers are followers, not pioneers. When a big one opens, others tend to follow. And Target is on Esselman’s list.