Target practice

The question periodically arises: Does Charlottesville have a Target in its future?
And the answer is— yes, county approvals permitting.
    Target, which has 26 stores in Virginia, is closemouthed about potential locations, and Charlottesville is not on the list for new stores in 2002. But Target spokesperson Mary Morelli says, “It’s an area we’re looking at.”
    So that’s good news, right? “Well, we look at about 300 sites a year and open only around 100 stores, so that’s no guarantee,” says Morelli.
    If Target were looking at this area, where exactly would it look? County planner Michael Barnes mentions two development projects with large footprints for a store like Target. One is Hollymead Town Center on U.S. 29 north; the other is Albemarle Place on the former Sperry property at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and U.S. 29 north.
    Checking with the developers of those projects, Wendell Wood of United Land Corp. owns up. “We have filed a site plan with the county that would involve a Target,” he says.
    Hollymead Town Center is located on a 150-acre parcel on the west side of U.S. 29 between Forest Lakes and Hollymead. Fifty acres will be devoted to a regional shopping center  50 percent larger than Barracks Road Shopping Center, and Target, Wood says, would be "an anchor.”
    Wood has been working on the project for three years now. “If you ask me if a deal has been struck economically with Target, I’d say, absolutely,” he says. “Now we have to work with the County to make it happen.”
    Wood says a grocery store and two other recognizable national tenants have signed, but the stores are waiting for county approvals before announcing. And the project isn’t just shopping: it will include 1,000 high-density residential units and 500,000 square feet of office space, following the county’s mixed-use model.
    So when will approvals be granted and the new Target open its doors? “I like to think it’ll be open next year,” says Wood, but he cautions, “We’ve learned that you don’t ever say something is going to happen until it happens.”
    Ironically, this area could have had a Target about five years ago at the Albemarle Place location, according to Frank Cox, a consultant heading up approval for that project. “We represented out-of-town developers between 1995 and 1997,” he says. “The primary tenant would have been Target, should the owner have been successful in getting rezoning. Target would have loved to be there.”
    Currently the 67-acre Albemarle Place is looking to amend the site’s industrial zoning to regional service zoning in the county’s comprehensive plan. That, like Hollymead Town Center, would include mixed commercial and residential use:  400 to 600 condos, townhouses and apartments, a hotel, 250,000 square feet in office space, 600,000 square feet in retail and a 15-screen theater complex with stadium seating.
Cox says a road running through the property will divert some of the traffic that was a concern a few years ago. 
    Albemarle Place wants to target “leaked sales”— the tens of millions of dollars that leave this area annually to be spent in upscale stores in Georgetown, Tyson’s, or Reston, according to Cox. And while he won’t name any potential tenants until the rezoning becomes effective, he hints, “Is there a Macaroni Grill? Is there a Crate and Barrel? We don’t have a Brooks Brothers.”
    Soon Charlottesville may have shopping opportunities that our credit cards have only dreamed about. Until then, the Short Pump exit in Richmond is the ticket for your Target fix.

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