Target has set its sights on the long-vacant former Best Buy store in southern Marin County for one of its smaller-sized stores, but it’s a deal that almost didn’t happen.
And because of that key lease, a center that has struggled for years with empty spaces may be heading toward teeming tenancies.
The Minneapolis-based retailer on April 21 said it plans to open a “flexible-format” store in Marin Gateway Shopping Center in March 2017. Located at 101 Donohue St. in Marin City, the 181,700-square-foot center has Highway 101 frontage at the northwest corner of the Sausalito–Marin City interchange.
The Target store is set to go into the 49,000-square-foot space Best Buy left in February 2014 after not renewing its lease.
It will be a “centerpiece” of the revitalization of the shopping center, according to Terrence Tallen, principal and owner of Gerrity Group LLC, which bought the property in 2011.
“Over the last few years, we focused bringing in key anchor tenant that would serve community needs, not only for Marin City but greater Marin County,” Tallen said in an interview. He has lived in Mill Valley for 18 years and commutes to Gerrity’s offices in the San Diego area.
Gerrity looked at a number of prospects, including movie theaters, grocery stores and sporting goods stores.
“Fortunately, there was quite good demand,” he said.
Target had been interested in the shopping center for three and a half years, considering various store format options. Months ago, Plano, Texas-based Cinemark had been working toward transforming the Best Buy space into a 12-screen complex.
Gerrity approached existing major tenants CVS and Ross Dress for Less for approval of the theaters addition to the shopping center site plan, per their lease contracts, Tallen said. CVS gave the green light, but Ross was concerned about the supply of parking for the theaters and its store.
Over months of efforts to convince Ross that the consumer draw of the theaters would be a net positive, Target reapproached Gerrity about availabilities in the center. Because of the impasse on the Cinemark lease, Gerrity resumed discussions with Target, Tallen said.
Target has been introducing flexible-format stores gradually over the past four years. Originally called CityTarget or TargetExpress, these locations are designed to carry a “curated” selection of the merchandise found in a traditional Target store, such as the 144,000-square-foot supercenter opened in Santa Rosa in mid-2014.
The company said it is prioritizing a shopping experience for shoppers in dense urban and suburban neighborhoods by investing in flexible-format stores with a product selection tailored to local needs.
“The Bay Area is a priority for Target, and the Marin City store will be the fourth flexible-format store to open in the Bay Area since 2015,” said Mark Schindele, Target senior vice president for properties. “We’re focused on serving the needs of our guests, and that means adding flexible-format stores to populated city centers where they live and work, so we look forward to becoming part of Marin City.”
The smaller format allows Target to open locations where previously it couldn’t, the company said. Currently, there are 19 flexible-format stores, and 21 more have been announced so far for 2016 and 2017 openings.
The Marin City location is set to have a grocery section, focusing on healthful foods; home goods; kids’ apparel, toys and baby essentials; portable technology and accessories; men and women’s clothing with local sports team apparel; cosmetic, haircare, beauty and other personal care products; and a pharmacy. The store also is set to have areas for high-tech shopping, such as using the Target Mobile and picking up online orders.