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.”