Target Corp. will open in miniature at the Boyd Theater development site, tapping Center City's growing base of workers and residents amid the retailer's nationwide introduction of smaller shops tailored to urban storefronts.
The Minneapolis-based company will open a TargetExpress store at 19th and Chestnut Streets in July 2016, offering fresh groceries, cellphone supplies, beauty items, and other goods in a retail building near the 1920s-era movie palace's facade, company spokeswoman Erika Winkels said Monday.
More TargetExpress stores may follow, with the company said to be eyeing at least one other Center City location.
Target's planned entry into central Philadelphia follows a February announcement that it would open eight TargetExpress stores this year in the San Francisco Bay area, Chicago, and other urban locations.
"They could go into densely populated areas of Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and be very profitable and productive with walk-in trade from people working in the neighborhood as well as people living in the neighborhood," said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of the retail consultant Strategic Resource Group in New York.
Philadelphia's store will be 21,000 square feet over two floors, about 16 percent as big as a typical Target store, Winkels said. The 19th and Chestnut location places it in the Raymond Pace Alexander building, a historic two-story structure that would be enlarged through construction of an adjacent three-story retail building, according to the most recent plans.
The building is a piece of the redevelopment plan partially approved Friday by Philadelphia's Historical Commission. It also includes the restoration of the Boyd's 1950s marquee, with a restaurant to be set in the space behind the facade.
At that hearing, developer Pearl Properties withdrew a plan for a 341-foot-tall apartment tower where the Boyd's Art Deco auditorium once stood, to seek more neighborhood input.
The planned TargetExpress store will eschew the bulk packaging found at Target's big-box sites for smaller items that a carless customer could carry out and stash easily in a cramped apartment, Winkels said.
"It's a block from Rittenhouse Square. There's a ton of existing retail, lots of pedestrian traffic," she said. "We've got a greater opportunity to serve those guests who are maybe not as able to drive to a full Target store in a suburb."
The company was still deciding whether to put a pharmacy in the store, Winkels said. Target and CVS Health Corp. said earlier Monday that the drugstore chain would acquire the retailer's pharmacy and clinic businesses.
Though Winkels would not discuss plans for any other area TargetExpress locations, Larry Steinberg, a senior vice president at the real estate brokerage CBRE, said efforts were "moving forward" to lease the retailer space in a retail and residential project being built by Brickstone Cos. on Chestnut Street between 11th and 12th Streets.
The projects' developers seem to see Target, with its stock of daily necessities, as a convenience to draw residents to live in their buildings, Center City District president Paul Levy said.
Target, meanwhile, clearly sees the smaller-store format as a way to initiate contact with those apartment dwellers, many of whom may migrate to its traditional suburban turf as their families grow, Flickinger said.
"It's giving shoppers in high-opportunity markets like Philadelphia a good experience with TargetExpress, which ultimately will translate successfully to the suburban stores over time," he said.