Someday, there will actually be a Target store on the South Coast. It’s just too bad it won’t occur in time to help either tax-poor cities or the growing numbers of job seekers in the worst economic times since the Great Depression.
In case you missed a flurry of news over the July 18 weekend, Target made a peek-a-boo appearance in the city of Santa Barbara, then closed up its retail kimono after officials indicated they were not ready to move forward with developer Andrew Bermant’s plan for a retail center near Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.
The site, one of only a few in the entire South Coast corridor big enough for a Target, is highly controversial. That’s because it is part of a decades-old annexation deal that gave the city of Santa Barbara its airport and adjacent land surrounded on three sides by what’s become the city of Goleta.
Although it’s not likely we’ll see a Target store in the current business cycle, here are some thoughts about how the Bermant location might be made to work:
• Build it ultra-green. The only way to mitigate the expected traffic impacts of such a center would be to operate with as small a carbon footprint as possible. And this is (greater) Santa Barbara, home to the environmental movement.
• Work with Goleta. Goleta will oppose anything like a Target if it doesn’t participate in tax revenue. Goleta doesn’t have a site that would work as well or a property owner as creative as the Bermant family has been. But without a quid pro quo between the two cities, this puppy will not fly.
• Build a bridge to Old Town. Old Town Goleta is badly in need of urban redevelopment. Some of that has started, thanks to a new hotel and several Towbes Group projects that have added dozens of new housing units to the city.
• Think extremely long term. Franchises for retail in greater Santa Barbara don’t come along every day, and they’re likely to get less frequent. Target must explain how it will be an asset to the South Coast 40 to 50 years from now.