Target has signed a lease for a space at what is now a construction site across from Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Recently, a plan to open a Target store on East 14th Street at the future residential development that’s now a construction site between Avenues A and B, was made public. The news, first reported by the Real Deal, also mentioned that the store to open at the site, which is leased by Extell Development, will be smaller than most of the other Target locations.
This week, Town & Village asked around in Stuyvesant Town for residents’ thoughts on the neighborhood’s first big box store. Responses were, as expected, mixed, though most of the people interviewed indicated they would shop there.
Stuy Town resident Kay Vota noted, “I think it’s wonderful. Their prices are very reasonable. You can’t go anywhere else for those prices.” Still, she expressed some concern about competition for the surrounding existing businesses.
“What’s going to happen to the Associated?” asked Vota.
Another resident said she was concerned about the supermarket as well. The woman, who said she was one of Stuy Town’s first black residents, declined to share her name, explaining that with the low rent she pays, she doesn’t like to remind the landlord that she exists.
“Forget Target,” she said. “I want to keep the Associated. Will Target be selling food? Associated is more important. They got rid of (Stuy Town’s) D’Agostino. Will we be importing our food soon?”
The woman also said she had no need for the business. “I don’t want to rush to Target to buy any new things. It wouldn’t be helping me.”
Asked if she’d shop there, another resident, Elvina Oey, told T&V, “Probably yes. Because the closest one to us is the one in Brooklyn.” As for what she’d get there, Oey guessed, “Household cleaners, cleaning supplies like paper towels and soaps. That kind of stuff.”
An original tenant and retired cop who would only give his first name, Thomas, had conflicting views. On the one hand, when asked if he’d shop there, Thomas responded “yes,” but then said he was worried the store would become a destination for non-locals and end up raising crime stats in the neighborhood.
“I see the Target bringing crime,” said Thomas, whose beat was his own neighborhood. “Target’s going to, I feel, have a major shoplifting problem. It’s going to be one of those things where we’ll see what happens.” He added that he’d prefer to see a Trader Joe’s in the space, which according to rumors, is also in talks for a retail space at the Extell site.
A 15-year-old resident, Daniel, also gave the plan a thumbs down, figuring it would just lead to crowding.
“I don’t think it’s going to be good,” he said. “It’s going to bring a bunch of people in here. People are going to walk through the property and it’s going to get congested.”
One couple also said they were not looking forward to the big bull’s-eye’s arrival and guessed the future residents of the building to house it wouldn’t want it either.
“I wonder what the tenants paying high rent think about having a Target below them,” said Peter Harris. “They’re definitely getting hit with high rents.” He added, “As a small business owner, I’d be concerned. It’s going to knock out some of the little places.”
Harris’ wife, Frances, added, “I don’t like that part of it” and said she thought it was “too bad” about a major fire at the location in 2010 that displaced five small business storefronts. Frances also said if the store ends up bringing more foot traffic to the area, “I wouldn’t like it. And I wonder if it would take a lot of parking spaces away from us.”
Meanwhile, one neighbor of the construction site, who said he lives in the next building over, had this to say: “I don’t care much either way.” The resident, Zac Hoffman, who’s lived in his apartment for the last two years, seemed more irked about the ongoing construction noise, which, he pointed out, starts every day at 7 a.m. Hoffman isn’t planning to move though, explaining that rents have gone up significantly since he last had to look. So, when asked if he’d give the new inconvenience store some business, Hoffman answered, “Probably.”
Target does however have a supporter in Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.
“I’m for it,” she said. “As long as it’s not a Walmart.”
A spokesperson for Target declined to comment on what the new store would offer, only confirming that a lease had been signed, “contingent on approvals.”
UPDATE: The company has released further details on the store, which is expected to open in 2018.
The Real Deal reported the lease is for 30 years and the location is at the corner of Avenue A.