Rendering of the proposed Oak Park Target Express, courtesy of Target Corporation's website

Finally.  We got our Target.

Ever since the company opened its first eleven stores in the Chicagoland area in 1993, Oak Parkers have bemoaned driving past our own empty lots as we made the trek to Broadview, Melrose Park and later Brickyard, Hillside and the even the west Loop.  Now we are going to have a Target in our very own downtown business district.  Huzzah!

Why Target?  Why now?  There is no question that we are Target people.  Most people I know shop there – and like it.  But between online shopping and our willingness to drive a few miles in any direction to the nearest Target, the company has had little incentive to invest – until now.  We got close in 2008 when the company was first rolling out its “urban stores” format, but the economy took a turn and the project fell through.

The current environment is much different than 2008.  First and foremost, the economy improved and big corporations like Target are expanding.  Second, the company is actively building small-format “Target Express” stores of less than 50,000 square feet throughout the country.   The Oak Park store at 22,000 square feet is part of that strategy.  It will not be very big.  As a comparison, the Walgreen’s on Madison and Oak Park Avenue is just under 14,000 square feet. 

The typical suburban Target is about 150,000 square feet, or almost seven times the size of the proposed Oak Park store.  The new store will have a smaller selection of merchandise and convenience items, tailored for our community.  And, tailored for the residents of our new downtown high-rises.  Which is a good thing.

The third reason we can expect a Target next year is development.  The company is building a store designed for dense urban areas in an area that is becoming denser and increasingly urban.  Sure, that will bring some bad (parking, traffic, challenges for independents) with the good.  But for now, let’s focus on the good.  Revenue.  Convenience.  Investment.  Jobs. Retail occupancy.  Anchor store.  Amenities for new residents.  And it’s Target.  We’ve always wanted a Target.  (Next week… what about the little guys?)

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...