Hundreds gathered at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Segoe Road Monday night to hear a presentation from Target executives.
It's sometimes hard to predict what will bring out a crowd at a public meeting.
There were two meetings planned Monday night. One of them on the controversial plan to expand the Edgewater Hotel was held at the Brink.
Across town at the Covenant Presbyterian Church on Segoe Road, there was a public meeting on what you'd think would be a far less controversial project: building a Target next to Hilldale Mall. The area on University Avenue is already crammed with retail stores.
But the meeting drew hundreds of people from the neighborhood, who were mixed in their reaction.
Target executives presented their plan for a 155,000-square-foot "raised single level" store at the corner of North Midvale Boulevard and University Avenue. The store would be on top of about 450 parking spaces and employ 150 to 200 people.
"Target is here despite the tough economic times we're in," said Jaci Bell, senior development manager for Target. "And we're committed to a redevelopment project, not cornfields."
Target executives stressed that the building would be a green design, friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists (47 bike stalls are planned). Of its 1,600 stores, only nine are the "raised single level" design, all of which are in urban areas.
"At this time, we haven't explored TIF," said Tom Carrico, Target's real estate manager. "It's all going to be on Target's dime. We're not looking for public assistance. That being said, we'd take it."
Still, neighbors from the surrounding area had plenty of tough questions and some were absolutely opposed. Several raised concerns about increased car and truck traffic, noise and air pollution, and pedestrian safety, especially along University Avenue.
"It is a nightmare as a pedestrian to get around," said one woman. "Having another store this size is going to increase nightmares for driving."
One woman wanted to know why traffic impact figures for surrounding streets weren't available and what happened to plans for a pedestrian walkway across University Avenue. (Carrico said Target is still open to a bridge, but the city hasn't decided where best to put it.)
Others urged Target to pay livable wages and stock U.S. made goods. "I'm glad to see there are ideas about what to do with this hole in the ground," said one man. "What I'm more concerned about is your product mix. I don't want another outlet store for the People's Republic of China."
Still, there were plenty of people who spoke in favor of the new Target. One man said he lives in the neighborhood and doesn't have a car and is thrilled to have a household store coming.
Another man urged people "to work with Target to get the best outcome possible instead of getting passionate and saying 'no' at any cost and walking away."
Target has yet to present a formal plan to the city. Executives said they have left about eight months for the city's approval process and hope to have the store built by the fall of 2011.