Ocean Beach residents express anger at Target deal
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 08/17/17 - 07:36 AM | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The James Gang Company printers in OB have been recruited by the opposition to come up with a “No Target in OB” T-shirt.
The James Gang Company printers in OB have been recruited by the opposition to come up with a “No Target in OB” T-shirt.
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With big box retail versus mom-and-pop vying nationwide, that same scenario is playing itself out in Ocean Beach with the battle over a Target Express proposed on Newport Avenue. In what might be signaling the end of the antique mall era in OB, the Target Corp. is negotiating to acquire the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center building in the 4800 block of Newport Avenue.

A Target Express is a downsized version of the original Target store introduced by the chain across the country in a variety of sizes and assortments. The new store model is meant to create a more locally relevant big-box experience in urban areas.

Local opposition in OB, with a majority favoring mom and pops and many dreading the arrival of corporate competition, is intensifying. Target has become a bullseye for local opposition to the store's arrival, which has manifested itself in a new petition drive and public forums largely denouncing the project.

One Target public forum is already under the beach community's belt. Another is scheduled for the next OB Town Council meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23 at Masonic Lodge, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

There are a few in the community who feel strident public opposition to proposed corporate incursion has taken a decidedly disrespectful turn, pointing out name calling and outright piling on by locals against developers and corporate chain representatives casts the community in a negative light.

Many residents, like Cecilia Carrick, a Point Loma Association board member, are divided on the issue of Target coming to town.

“My opinion is that large stores like Target render small, diverse retailers obsolete, but do add convenience and better pricing for the buying public,” said Carrick. “It would change OB but would it be a bad change? Tough choice.

“I would want to know the facts about the number of jobs, quality of wages and benefits being offered by Target in exchange for the opportunity to do business in the heart of OB. More money in OB through tax revenue and business could help better maintain the area and maybe help get rid of transients,” she said.

That view is not shared by all, including Gretchen Newsom, current president of OB Town Council.

"I have major concerns about Target locating a storefront in Ocean Beach – including the likely negative impact it would have on our local, small, independent main street businesses, the part-time poverty jobs they promise, parking issues, and the erosion of our grassroots community values and unique OB vibe," said Newsom.

Meanwhile, Brian Fitzgerald has started a petition drive on change.org at www.change.org/p/residents-of-ocean-beach-keep-target-out-of-ocean-beach, opposing Target's entrance into the OB market, which to date has netted 2,215 supporters.

Even the James Gang Company printers in OB have been recruited by the opposition to come up with a “No Target in OB” T-shirt. No OB Target T's cost $10 and are available at the James Gang printers at 1931 Bacon St.. or at the James Gang's booth during OB's Farmers Market.

“I've owned a small-business in OB for 31 years,” said James Gang co-owner Paul Bearce, who fears Target's entry into the beach community would “destroy the fabric of OB competing with other super-local businesses. I've raised two kids in OB and have a heart for OB.”

Asked about “No Target in OB” T-shirt sales, Bearce said, “We've sold a few dozen.”

Bearce added the T-shirts will be on sale indefinitely.

Noting “landlords have done everything correct,” Tony Franco of Tony Franco Realty Inc. who is brokering the Target negotiations, said during the long hunt for new tenants in the prime Newport Avenue commercial space, that “We brought this deal to all types of businesses including bowling alley operators, breweries and other grocery stores such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and received many offers to lease only a small portion of the space.”

Franco said it would have been too expensive to split the building up into four-to-six different smaller tenants.

PUBLIC FORUM ON TARGET

What: The second public forum on the Target Express will take place at the next Ocean Beach Town Council meeting.

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday,

Aug. 23.

Where: Masonic Lodge, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

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