Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Better Masonic: Target Stresses Alternative Transportation to a Masonic/Geary Store, Less Clear about Traffic Impacts

The Target Image by Target

Major upgrades to exterior of City Center Plaza Proposed by Target

More than 150 neighbors with interest and concerns at the Target meeting

Target representatives were quick to focus on alternative modes of transportation to their proposed City Center Plaza site during the first outreach meeting to mostly supportive neighbors last night. One of the first images in a brief slide presentation highlighted a half-mile radius circling the Masonic/Geary location. Thom Lasley, Target designer, indicated that residents living within the area could walk to the store in twenty minutes or less. Another slide identified several Muni lines nearby, with 43 Masonic and 38 Geary stops just steps from the front door. Lasley said Target also expected many customers to bike to the store and bike parking would be readily available.

Information about how many vehicle trips would likely be generated by the popular store was less available. In a pre-meeting discussion with BIKE NOPA, John Dewes, regional development manager, said he believed Target’s experience with their 1800 stores nationwide gave them “a good handle on this.” However, the San Francisco stores – another is planned for the Metreon complex -- would be the first in Target’s “new concept for an urban store” and a great many Target stores serve more suburban or small town populations. Dewes added that Target was currently working with a traffic engineer to help them with this issue in San Francisco. In response to a question by Streetsblog about anticipated trips to Target, Dewes said they expected the traffic “will break down as in other urban centers with a cross-mix from nearby residents and from neighborhoods further away.” But, he added, “We’re still analyzing how that will work.”

Approximately 150 neighbors gathered for the meeting in the old Mervyn’s department store last night. Most who spoke were enthusiastic, sometimes almost giddy, about the prospect of Target settling in the area. Kat Anderson, a candidate for the District 2 Board of Supervisors seat, said a nearby Target was “a wonderful idea.” She added that she usually spent $300 every time she shopped Target, but “there’s no way I’m walking home with $300 of stuff.” Another supportive neighbor commented, “You’re like a respite in the city. Going downtown is a nightmare. Now we won’t have to go to South San Francisco.” Unlike many public meetings focused on new development projects, the Target session was upbeat and friendly.

Representatives from at least three neighborhood associations voiced their support for the Target outlet. A leader of the University Terrace Association -- located near Masonic and Turk streets – reported that all 60 of their active members “were very positive.” The Ewing Terrace neighbors and the Planning Association of the Richmond also welcomed Target.

Only toward the end of the meeting were traffic concerns raised again. District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi spoke about the ongoing efforts to manage traffic on Masonic. “Masonic has been a chronic challenge to us. Target will add to that and will require a more stepped-up response to traffic management.” He called for more traffic calming along the Masonic corridor from Geary to Haight. Pauli Ojea urged neighbors and Target representatives to look not only towards the inside of the store but also the outside and the surrounding streets. “Bike racks are nice, but they don’t do me any good if I get killed trying to bike to the store.”

Mariana Parreiras, a member of Fix Masonic, explained that the advocacy group had collected more than 600 signatures among Masonic area residents in support of greater safety for all road users. “It’s clear the neighborhood wants Target,” Parreiras said, “but we hope Target will work with us to mitigate the traffic concern so we can welcome them to the neighborhood.”

Other highlights from the Target meeting:
  • Since 1946 Target’s policy has been to donate 5% of its income – currently more than $3 million a week – to community non-profit organizations. In San Francisco Target has supported the AIDS Foundation, the Asian Art and de Young Museums and 85 local schools
  • 200-250 employees would be hired at each of the proposed stores
  • Target is working with the Mayor’s office to determine how much sales tax revenue might be generated
  • Target will use sustainable materials in construction as much as possible
  • “wall stores” – magazines, coffee, etc. – will be added to the first level exterior along Geary to make the store more pedestrian-friendly
  • Landscaping on the property will be upgraded considerably
  • City Center Plaza has 600 parking spaces, far more than would be allowed for a similar complex today
  • Target may install wind turbines on the rooftops to generate electricity
  • Target has yet to file an application to the city but if the process proceeds in a timely manner, the new store could be open in the Spring of 2012
For other articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.


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