Why I'm supporting Target
07/21/2010 10:00 PM
I recently attended Ald. Fioretti’s town hall meeting, which was followed by Target’s presentation of its proposed store on Jackson and Aberdeen. I was one of the people who had been in discussions with an attorney for Target who contacted me at the request of Ald. Fioretti’s office. I am on the board of Near West Neighbors.
Someone from Ald. Fioretti’s office asked me previously how I would feel about Target coming to our community. Initially, I had of a couple concerns but then thought it could be good for the community. I decided I would keep an open mind and reached out for feedback to over 150 residents and business owners via e-mail, phone, and face-to-face meetings to ask, “How would you feel about Target coming to our neighborhood?”
After hearing all the responses, I decided I would support Target due to the following:
- Target is not asking for a single dime of TIF dollars;
- the location seems ideal and conducive for this type of business;
- building would be a non-imposing, two-story structure;
- architecture is to be consistent with that of the neighborhood;
- good for our current small businesses;
- could be a “lighting rod” for other retailers;
Most expressed a feeling the process was being rushed. No matter the reasons, good or just as they may be, I would agree. Also, I wasn’t enamored with the design and I expect Target to improve upon it. Despite these points, I sensed the overall response was consistent with the feedback I received, which was to support Target. A good number of the residents I spoke with expressed a desire to have something else on that site but when I pinned them for an answer, most of them said they would support.
Some of the arguments against at the meeting and my responses are as follows:
“Target would be out of character with the West Loop.” I think we need to note the boundaries of the West Loop which are Grand on the north, Eisenhower on the south, the river on the east, and Ashland on the West. We have a neighborhood that has a different character depending on where you are within it.
“Target will hurt property values.” While urban planning is more of a passion than my area of expertise, real estate is both. My assessment is that it will neither increase to decrease property values. Some will not like the increased traffic while others will like the close proximity to a store most seem to like.
“Target will hurt small businesses.” In my opinion and with all due respect to those who believe this, it is just wrong. I made it a priority to speak to business owners in the West Loop who also live here and they were mostly in support of Target. Several business owners expressed a desire for more foot traffic which they feel could improve with the potential opening of a Target store. If you take a stock of our businesses, very few if any would be impacted by Target. I think the opposite could be said in other neighborhoods but Target will simply not be competing against boutiques, dry cleaners, galleries, restaurants, and other area businesses. Businesses that have contributed greatly to the West Loop who deserve to prosper.
“I don’t want to have this neighborhood get more gentrified.” This comment just seemed out of touch. The West Loop has been gentrified. Period. Maybe I’m not putting this comment in its intended context. There seems to be a divide between those who don’t want more development and those that welcome development and conveniences that other communities take for granted. I would love to see the Madison Street corridor get filled with more shops, bakeries, restaurants and other interesting businesses. Should this happen, and I hope that it does sooner than later, it will still be a residential neighborhood that will be more self sustainable, vibrant and an even better place to live.
The biggest reason for supporting Target is because I feel it will bring other retailers and make our community better. In the end, I and the majority seem to think it’s a step in the right direction and I look forward to having them here.