Oct. 09--A dead zone once occupied by Sears Roebuck, Mervyn's, Good Guys and other chains of yore is coming back to life.
On Wednesday, San Francisco's second CityTarget opens a 119,000-square-foot store strategically located in a western part of the city that's been without a major general merchandise discount retailer for years.
"Now we don't have to go downtown to go shopping," said Johanna Loacker, 18, a business major at nearby USF who, with fellow undergrad Erica Cruz, was snapping photos outside the main entrance at Masonic Street and Geary Boulevard on Monday. "We've been counting down the days on our phones," said Cruz.
The new store, CityTarget SF West, is Target's eighth urban-oriented store to open since July 2012, including the CityTarget anchoring the Metreon in downtown San Francisco.
At the same time, the Minneapolis chain, with 48 locations in the Bay Area, continues to add more of its larger, more traditional stores here, including Alameda and San Rafael stores, both of which open Wednesday, and another in Petaluma, which opened in July.
Similar to the Metreon store, CityTarget SF West, which takes up more than half of the City Center complex at Geary and Masonic, is smaller than Target's traditional stores -- though not by much -- and focuses on an "edited merchandise assortment," pretty much the usual range of items but in more portable sizes. A 12-pack of toilet paper rather than 36, bistro sets instead of standard patio furniture. There's fresh and packaged food, a large apparel section, and items aimed at the area's strong Asian demographic -- in this case more packaged Asian food.
What it does have, unlike the Metreon location, is oodles of parking -- 650 spots, shared with the shopping mall's only other major tenant, Best Buy. Plus two neighborhood bus lines, the 38-Geary and 43-Masonic, which stop right outside.
"It's more residential and for traditional shopping, rather than the Metreon, which is much more in the urban core. It's also 20,000 square feet bigger than the Metreon," said Matt Kircher, executive managing partner of Cassidy Turley, a real estate consultancy. "I think it's going to be very well received."
It's certainly well received by San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district encompasses the complex. "This is a huge piece of real estate, and I'm really happy Target has made the investment. Apart from creating a great number of jobs" -- the store has 350 employees -- "it's great for the neighborhood to no longer have to see a boarded-up eyesore."
The mall's descent into what neighbors called a "ghost town" started in 1990 when Sears pulled out of San Francisco after 39 years. Good Guys followed in 2005. Mervyn's, whose space Target is primarily occupying, went out of business in 2008. Office Depot departed last year.
Right now, that leaves just two names on City Center's signage -- Best Buy and Target. But the remaining empty spaces are getting a do-over, which suggests other tenants might be joining them in the not-too-distant future. Ulta, an Illinois cosmetics chain with outlets in malls throughout the Bay Area, is reported to be eyeing a spot there.
"This second CityTarget store cements a long-term retail presence at the underutilized City Center shopping complex, and not only provides a boost to our local economy, but creates jobs for San Franciscans," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. "Target has been a great community partner since opening its first store in San Francisco last year, funding community organizations and supporting our public schools," he added.
As for a third CityTarget I've been hearing about in San Francisco's Japantown? "No information to share about a potential new store in that neighborhood," said a Target spokesman. But "Japantown is a great market for Target and we continue to pursue opportunities to serve guests there."