February 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 7:00pm

Aaron Hemquist, Senior Development Manager of Real Estate for Target Corporation in Minneapolis joined us to talk about Target's plans for their new store at the Porter Square Galleria.

The minutes on this part of the meeting are taken largely from the excellent reporting by Ron Newman, along with the comments of others online.

This will be a small format Target store at 28,000 square feet, about 5000 square feet larger than their store in Central Square, but only about 20% the size of a full-size Target. (For Comparison Everett is 140,000, Watertown is 160,000, Somerville 94,000.)

They will take up all of the first floor space formerly (and so shortly) occupied by Walgrens, and the entire second floor (including what was a shushi restaurant space) with the exception of Parrelli Optical, which will remain in place.  

Pot Belly, Sprint, and Anna's Taqueria will remain where they are on the first floor. The public stairway and escalator between the first and second floors have been removed, so the only access to Parrelli will be via an elevator or the back stairs.

Target will use the escalator and elevator that Walgrens installed between its first and second floor.  Target has no current plans to expand into the basement. They are (or rather the building owner is) putting a floor all the way across the second floor, eliminating the open atrium area, thus gaining more square footage. 

Target is opening other small format stores this year in Roslindale, Medford, Stoneham and Burlington.

The store plans to open in October 2018, and will be open from 8 am to 11 pm.

The product mix will be flexible, with the site team able to adjust it to local demand. They will not, of course, have their usual CVS or Starbucks.

There is a loading dock behind the store, accessed from White Street.  Deliveries will be made with small trucks, not big semis.  The store will have 40-50 total employees, with 5-10 turning over at any one time. Of the 62 spaces inthe garage, 40 will be reserved for Target customers and employees, and so marked.

There was a significant comment period.  Many people stressed that we need clothes for kids; underwear, socks, and regular clothes for average folks, as there is no place nearby where such things can be bought.  This is particularly a hardship for those without cars, and who object to buying everything online. 

Several people added small electronics to the list of things we need to be able to buy locally, as Radio Shack is no more.

We stressed that we hoped they would not target the goods we can now get at our favorites in the Square, and in the area-Tags, Porter Square Books, etc.  He and I talked privately, before the meeting, about this. I stressed the kind of "hardware" and "city apartment goods", for example, one can find at Tags.  There is a world of other such products they can supply without head to head competition. 

Many of us stressed that we don't need more "food", with a grocery store in the Square and restaurants all around, though I am sure they plan to have some food.

Someone from Cambridgeport pointed out, online, that the Central Square Target competes big time with the local hardware stores, food store, and drug stores.  They said the Central Square store offers very few clothes and that they are not very durable.

Of course, we will need to wait to see how this actually plays out.  I asked for the manager's name and contact info as soon as that is known. And I promise to lean on him, but realistically they are in the business of competing.  

As we become customers, we need to continue to ask for the goods we really have no other local source for, say, for example, tennis and similar shoes.

At the meeting, I  asked about local hiring, which he stressed they consider important.  I asked him to give us the details as soon as they start advertising, so we could make sure to spead the word.

For the second part of our meeting we began a discussion, which will undoubtedly continue over a few meetings, about PSNA, who we are, our goals, our email list, our website, our meetings.

One member complained that there were too many emails dealing with things beyond the bounds of PSNA and our ability to do anything about it-things like concerts, city announcements, etc. 

Since I am the one currently posting most of the emails, I am apparently the biggest transgressor of his very narrow guidelines.  One of our new members offered to bring a list of email topics over the last few months to look at in more specificity. 

I have tried to curtail my desire to share this last month, and am asking appropriate city departments to join our email list and post important announcements, so I don't have to decide whether to forward something.

We lost a lot of our university, city departments, arts and citizens groups from our email community when we switched over to googlegroups. We are also now in a format that is close to impossible to monitor/control, however, it is much more efficient, requiring far less of anyone's time to maintain.

While I think he has a good point (to a point), I also believe we need to hear about important issues in Cambridge, as we are an integral part of the bigger city. And if we want the city to listen to us, we need to listen to them, and know when our issues are the same or different from other parts of the city.

Also, don't we want to know if a member or a neighbor is playing in a local performance (music, theater, book reading) so that we have the opportunity to support them? 

None of us should post extraneous stuff and waste someone else's time, clog their inbox; the problem is that we all have different definitions of what is appropriate.

At our next meeting we will continue this discussion, but as part of a bigger discussion of who we are and what we want to do (and with the knowledge that the larger group of or email members aren't at our meetings).  As part of that discussion, I will be bringing a very large map of what I would call the natural catchment area of the Square, and stretching to where I know some of our members live. 

We have many audiences, and maybe several kinds of "members": those who pay $10/yr and come to meetings (and vote); those who cannot/don't want to make it to meetings; those who follow/comment (some frequently) on our listserve; and those who only watch. Some of those watchers are important to us as well-local businesses, the universities, etc.  I am hoping PSNA can serve all of them.

To be continued on March 15th!