Target makes its space in old Carson’s; hiring 300 workers (Tavi S.)

BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter sguy@suntimes. April 19, 2012

What does a Target in the city look like?

Shoppers at the new CityTarget — the name for the store inside the old Carson Pirie Scott store at 1 S. State St. — will see a vivid mixture of historic imagery with high-tech functionality when the store opens on July 25. The company will hold a “grand opening” ceremony on July 29.

Target’s bull’s-eye logo will be displayed from the widely recognized Louis Sullivan-designed rotunda window over the main entrance. Rust-colored, perforated metal banners that subtly integrate the logo will extend the two-story store’s exterior.

Inside, 10 percent of the store’s 89,000 square feet of selling space will feature fresh foods — meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables — in open-air and refrigerated cases and displays. (A full-sized Target store averages 125,000 square feet.) The so-called “P-fresh” mini-market, which sells barcoded fruit and vegetables and pre-bagged bananas, herbs and other goods to eliminate the need for scales and weight-based pricing, is set off on the second floor by historically significant columns, an entire wall’s length of set-back windows and, just outside, the elevated train and tracks. The expanded food section houses 56 freezers and refrigerators and 200 linear feet of open meat and dairy cases.

The Minneapolis-based retailer, which had coveted the downtown site for years, has spent a significant sum ensuring that the store’s unique columns and their fancy tops, called capitals, have been repaired and freshly painted to reveal their original charm under years of layers of paint, said spokeswoman Amy Reilly, who declined to disclose exact spending numbers as she and other Target spokespeople led a tour this week. Fewer than half of the two-story store’s 100 columns with ornate tops required restoration, Reilly said.

An estimated 100 to 150 construction workers have been on-site since January.

The city invested $24.4 million in tax increment financing to help restore the building, and developer Joseph Freed & Associates put the total project cost at $190 million over the past 10 years.

Store manager Michael Quinn, 36, a Park Forest native who most recently managed the South Loop Target store, said the former Carson’s site will cater to college students, office workers, downtown residents and the grab-and-go crowd with a pharmacy, sleek “Destination Beauty” cosmetics department, limited-time-only designer collections, healthy food chain Pret A Manger, convenience-sized product sizes (no 24-pack paper-towel monolith to take onto the L for the commute home) and patio furniture suited for balconies rather than lawn-sized gazebos.

Quinn, who started his career at Target 17 years ago pushing shopping carts, admits to having cultivated a fan base as he regularly walks around the future Target store wearing his signature red shirt and name tag.

“I feel like a celebrity,” he said, noting that people stop him regularly to ask the store-opening date. “There is definitely a pride factor for Target, given the building’s significance and the ability to fill a real retail and grocery gap.”

There will be no dedicated parking or discounted parking nearby, but the store will have a loading dock on Madison Street so drivers may pull up.

Target officials expect more than 1,800 applicants to vie for the CityTarget store’s 300 jobs. Job seekers are urged to apply now at Target.com/careers. The company plans an in-person job fair at the Palmer House Hilton May 31-June 2, but will first consider online applicants.

After budget shoestore DSW opens its store next door in May; CityTarget opens in July, and Walgreen Co. doubles its e-commerce office space this fall, the former Carson Pirie Scott and Sullivan Center space will be 85 percent occupied, a developer spokeswoman said. Other tenants include Flat Top Grill restaurant, the School of the Art Institute, Gensler architects and the Illinois Office of Employment Security.

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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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