The bullseye has become a moving Target. Minnesota-based retail chain Target announced this week that is it pulling the plug on a proposed site in Antioch, Illinois. The company said slumping sales and the weak housing market were the reasons for the withdrawal, but a company spokesman made it clear that Target is applying the brakes on new growth. Target will not be part of the so-called Antioch Marketplace, which the city’s Mayor said is “in flux right now.” “I can’t speculate if the project will move forward,” Mayor Dorothy Larson told the Daily Herald newspaper. “I would certainly hope so.” Target also jettisoned projects in Morris, Illinois, and in Chicago. “We have more store opportunities than we can pursue at this time,” a Target official told the Daily Herald. “We have to make sure it is a good fit for Target and the community, and right now, we have to be selective.” The Antioch Marketplace developer, V-Land, said it still plans to proceed with the enormous, 600,000 s.f. mall, located near an existing Wal-Mart. The Target store would have been around 132,156 s.f. The developer says a Kohl’s and a Lowe’s are also part of the tenant mix, but Kohl’s refused to confirm their involvement. “We don’t actually comment on real-estate speculation,” a Kohl’s spokesman told the newspaper. The largest mall in the area, the Antioch Mall was approved two months ago. The developer helped sell the project by projecting it would generate big sales tax revenue for the local elementary school district, and the high school. “All I can tell you is we are very much interested in figuring out a way to work with Target and keep them as part of the project,” said a representative from V-Land. But if Target was their target, V-Land needs to find another target.
Does this Target pullout fit into the larger picture of new store slow-downs at retailers like Wal-Mart? “There are a lot of stories flying around about retailers dropping locations all over the country,” a spokesman for V-Land admitted. “We built this project around certain anchor tenants and do what we can to work with them.” The fact remains, companies like Target and Wal-Mart are scaling back their overly-ambitious growth plans, and leaving many communities, like Antioch, with happy homeowners who are thrilled to hear that the big box chains are becoming more ‘selective’ in where they locate.