Target Corp. plans to open a third store in Center City - this time in the Art Museum area - as part of the company's aggressive strategy to expand into urban markets with smaller stores offering a wide variety of goods.

The Target Philadelphia Art Museum store at 2001 Pennsylvania Ave. is scheduled to open in October 2017, according to the company, which confirmed its plans for the first time Friday.

At 38,376 square feet, it will have one level and will take over the space now occupied by a Whole Foods market across from the back of the Barnes Foundation. The size is about one-fourth the size of a typical suburban Target store of 160,000 square feet.

It will be the third of what have been described by Target as "flexible format stores" to open within two years in the city. The Art Museum Target will follow the planned July 2016 openings of stores at 12th and Chestnut Streets, and 19th Street and Chestnut Street.

The 12th and Chestnut store will have 19,000 square feet, while the one at 19th and Chestnut will occupy 21,000 square feet.

Flexible format stores - like Target's typical stores now - emphasize order pickups from Target.com, spokeswoman Kristy Welker said. "One thing that's different for the flexible format stores vs. a general merchandise Target store is that there's an exterior sign that says 'Order Pickup,' " she said.

Of the company's urban push, she said, "The strategy is to have stores within the neighborhoods and provide what the residents need - be it grab-and-go, groceries, lunch items, or apparel and home items that are expected from Target.

"Guests in urban areas tend to travel great distances to get to a Target," she said. "We are bringing the store to them and meeting them where they are."

In 2012, Target began to expand into city centers after years of concentrating on suburbs. It now has 18 flexible format stores in metro Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

Welker said, "Urban flexible format locations offer access to all of Target [merchandise] - regardless of their size."

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