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Keep big-box stores and their little-box brethren out of South Park, says a petition signed by over 750 of South Park residents. The residents have banded together in opposition to a proposal from Minneapolis-based Target to open a Target Express store inside what is currently Gala Foods.

The company announced it leased the community grocery store and the parking lot in mid-September.

Council president Todd Gloria, the representative for South Park, first learned of the proposal shortly after. Gloria logged onto Facebook to update his constituents on their future neighbor.

"Target’s team is working on the store design and building renovation plans now," Gloria wrote. "Drawings are expected to be completed in November at which time they will apply for permits with the City’s Development Services Department. Based on my recommendation, they have agreed at that time to attend the various neighborhood meetings to share their plans. In the meantime, Target has committed to keep me updated throughout the process."

Gloria goes on to say that the company does not plan to make major changes to the outside of the building but instead plans to make so-called "tenant improvements" to the inside.

"I was pleased to hear that they are looking at historical photos of the site in order to maintain the mid-century modern aesthetic of the property, and may even restore some original elements that have been changed over the years. They also intend to include bike amenities to ensure this is a store that serves the neighborhood. To that end, they have confirmed that the grocery component of the store will stock organic, fresh produce with some varieties locally sourced."

Residents aren't pleased, not only with the idea of a conglomerate moving in but that they may not have any say in the permitting process. As of now, the company is only required to obtain staff approval, meaning no environmental review, no opportunity for public comment, and no traffic studies.

The lack of community review prompted some residents to create a petition to send to Gloria and Target executives.

"Keep South Park local and unique — Keep large chains out and small businesses in," reads the petition on Change.org.

"South Park is a close-knit historic neighborhood with an identity largely based on its independent local businesses. Target's presence would damage this identity and set a precedent for the expansion of large chains, threatening our small, unique community by taking away its one-of-a-kind character, weakening the local economy, and eliminating local businesses.

In addition, there have been no reviews or calls for input from the community that would be affected by Target's presence and the planned development of "a new ±5,000 SF Shops building" in the parking lot."

In just under a week, 769 people have signed the petition.

“I am aware of both opposition and support of the proposed Target Express in South Park and appreciate the ongoing community feedback and suggestions" Gloria wrote in a October 14 statement. “It is important that the City of San Diego have regulations that are evenly applied, and Target should go through the same process as anyone else would for its project.

"As I understand, Target Express is at this time proposing only tenant improvements, which do not require discretionary review. I have encouraged company representatives to continue to reach out to the community to provide details of their plans, which should occur in November.”

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Comments

BlueSouthPark Oct. 14, 2014 @ 5:02 p.m.

You should say "[Some]Residents aren't pleased" because some are very pleased. All of the residents who have depended on Gala grocery store for many years are sad that the grocery-function of the business in the building is ending, but given the alternative of infill high-density apartment/condo units, or a Wal-Mart or Savon, Target is excellent. Target is among the more responsible corporations, treats its employees well, and tries hard to be a customer-responsive vendor.

On the petition are names of numerous residents of North Park, East Village/downtown, or Golden Hill, plus a few people who own property here but don't even live in the city. I guess the petitioners living in nearby areas come into the neighborhood for various reasons (restaurant food, bar alcohol, tattoos, little-store eclectic goods, etc.), but they don't live here. Their outrage about corporations seems a bit overwrought - I assume they never set foot in the big corporations (7/11, Starbucks, Edward Jones, and Stone Brewery) already present here; Gala was part of the huge IGA corporation. South Park also has its share of real estate offices representing large corporate parents.

Arguments about traffic are not even believable, and Target will not be in any real competition with any of the small local shops. As a longtime resident, I'm looking forward to TargetExpress, as a place to pick up online orders, make returns of online purchases, and as a way to save myself the long trip and a lot of gas to go to Mission Valley or Sports Arena Target when I need household or personal items not sold by Target online.

Yaay TargetExpress! Can't wait. I'll go to Miller's Market (the Gala owners' other store) or Food Bowl for the small groceries that I depended on Gala to provide. Not the end of the world.

Let's welcome this and make it work, because if Target doesn't get the business it needs, it may pull out. Then what? I know a few developers who are lusting after that nice big lot and would love to turn it into a huge, built-to-the-curb moneymaker. Some of the anti-Target people include architects, builders, realtors, and developers. Let's have a nice store for the residents here, with plenty of free parking and open space, and appreciate it.

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BlueSouthPark Oct. 15, 2014 @ 9:18 a.m.

Lois - Check the hourly wage for workers at Gala or any other small local business that has one or two workers. Do their workers have health insurance? Target is a good opportunity for workers compared to small businesses. The loudest local opponents of increasing minimum wage are local restaurant owners, one in particular in North Park.

Traffic and parking: I've lived here longer than you, closer to Gala. There's NEVER been a traffic problem there... not counting the Walkabouts hosted by SP Business Group (who push hard to bring the world into SP and aren't concerned by traffic - they want it), or last weekend when SP Abbey hosted a huge, NOISY beerfest impacting the neighborhood for blocks in a way that Target never will.

Everyday parking in the TargetExpress lot will continue to be free, with 117 dedicated spaces for Target. There'll be no problem finding parking in the lot. It'll be a neighborhood convenience Target serving primarily an area inside 94, 805, and maybe 1.5 miles north. If he chooses, Captain Kirk will continue selling coffee from his cart; recycling and food trucks will probably continue.

Hard to imagine more people in the area than the number that already come here for restaurants/alcohol - Hamilton's, Stone Beer, Rose Wine, South Park Abbey - further away than Golden Hill/North Park. But I hope some people further away WILL be driving once in a while to South Park just to go to TargetExpress; it will help ensure that Target stays to serve those of us who are within walking distance and will use their services intensively.

Your thought that "the neighborhood in general shopped elsewhere for groceries" is incorrect. Lots of people, everyone in my neighborhood, everyone I know, from 28th St. to Bancroft, from Juniper to A St., went to Gala for things, every day, by foot or by car, in addition to weekly drives to Costco, Albertson's, Smart & Final, etc. Gala will be missed and hundreds of locals will have to find more distant sources for the groceries Gala provided.

You may not have a complete sense of what routinely happens here midday, mid-week, or weekends, because your business is on Adams Ave and you spend time there; maybe you buy groceries on the way home at a store (corporate TJ's?) en route from work. That's fine. I don't know how you choose to shop, it's not my business. But your claims about what other people in SP do miss the mark. You are very public about your business life, thus everyone knows that you support the Adams Ave Business Assoc activities designed to draw huge crowds into that neighborhood. It doesn't make sense that you are objecting to a very practical addition to enhancing everyday life in South Park. Target is a positive direction for the neighborhood - more useful than another bar, restaurant, or infill. Be happy!

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Founder Oct. 15, 2014 @ 4:41 p.m.

If Target was going to be a real Good Neighbor they would attend at least several community meetings BEFORE they finalize their plans, rather than simply tell the Community what they are going to do! If Todd Gloria had any real Leadership, he would have already set up one or more Community meetings to gather Community input rather than just smile while a South Park community icon becomes a fond memory.

Hopefully the wonderful seafood food truck, with the huge following, can stay!

I hope South Park will not allow their "Business District" to do what NP Main Street (the North Park Business District) did, which is keep food trucks from setting up in North Park, since they want no competition; despite what residents want which is high quality low cost foods to choose from.

I've got my fingers crossed for the residents of South Park.

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lesliemg Oct. 16, 2014 @ 8:27 p.m.

This article is painfully one-sided. There are lots of residents in South Park and neighboring communities who are thrilled at having the convenience of Target so close by.

1

Dorian Hargrove Oct. 17, 2014 @ 1:20 p.m.

One sided? I reported on a petition drive. I contacted the councilmember for that district. I am not on any side. Thanks.-dH

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BlueSouthPark Oct. 17, 2014 @ 5:38 p.m.

Everyone in South Park, no matter whether you wish the Gala grocery store would remain, wish it would transform into a hipster-grocery, wish it would become some type of neighborhood-owned co-op, or wish the lot could be packed with infill units, PLEASE give a kind word to the Gala employees who will be losing their jobs on Sunday Oct 19, 2014. I'm sure they would be glad to hear words of kindness and appreciation at this time.

Some of the employees have worked at Gala for over 20 years and have no prospects currently. They are stressed and worried and hoping to find something else to enable them to earn a living. Do anything you can to be nice to them. If you know of any openings, share the info with them.

Residents of South Park received a mailer this week announcing a new store (El Super) that will be in the space Albertson's occupied and abandoned at 4421 University. If anyone knows when that grocery might open, and how positions there could be obtained, pass the info along to the Gala employees. There are labor issues with the El Super corporate parent, but a labor issue is better than no job and no hope.

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KLoEditor Nov. 14, 2014 @ 12:44 p.m.

Besides the points Blue South Park makes, I think people should also be aware of who is trying to manipulate them into opposing Target. Look at outcomes in other neighborhoods. The small businesses on Market Street were opposed to the 99 cent store because it would supposedly drive them out of business. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, more people are shopping at the little stores next to the 99, including myself, that would never bother to make the trip before, now it's like a "since we're here, let's walk over to that bakery" sort of thing. The 99 has been a great addition to the community, a community that needed that store. Same thing with the mini-WalMart on Imperial Avenue. Everyone brought forward the same concerns about traffic and changing the community. Well the community hasn't changed. The businesses nearby are busier, and the area more vibrant, than it ever was with the dark and dirty Albazar there. I never went near that place. But I shopped quite often at the WalMart there. The traffic hasn't gotten terrible. It's a nice place to shop. It has become a vital resource for the people of the community. Not everybody wants to go to "indie hipster" little stores where the prices are absurd and the brands are unknown. Not everybody wants to shop in little liquor stores where the products are expired and the bananas are rotten. A lot of people want to shop in a clean safe environment and get an expected product for a reasonable price. If people feel that's somehow morally wrong, then spare your conscience and don't shop there. [BTW, to get back to my earlier point, Barrio Logan was supposed to get a Target, instead they got a Northgate. They didn't need a Northgate, they needed a Target. Instead they got a WalMart. Be aware of who's manipulating you, and be careful what you wish for.]

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