The North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) was surprised to hear tonight that Target Corp. is aggressively courting the developer of the “One Canal” project to be its anchor tenant. “One Canal” is the proposed $150 million housing development at Greenway Parcel 2 A/B/C, between the West End and North End neighborhoods. Target is competing against Stop & Shop which had long been assumed to be opening a full-service supermarket on the ground floor. Target is proposing a 2-floor urban concept model that will combine food with its typical retail products. The upper floors of the development are expected to house up to 275 rental apartment units.
NEWNC member Jon Sproul commented that a Target store “could be the worst possible situation bringing a strip mall-like development to the West End that has already suffered through urban renewal.”
The Target news was presented at the monthly NEWNC meeting during an update by Trinity Financial Project Manager, Sarah Barnat. Trinity was recently designated to be the developer for the site by MassDOT on August 11th after a joint venture of Hines-Raymond L.P. failed to move forward at the location. Ms. Barnat noted that Stop & Shop is still very interested in the location and a decision could be made in the next few weeks.
Neighborhood Council members universally voiced disappointment because the community has anticipated a full-service, affordable supermarket that would serve the North End, West End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
Ms. Barnat responded that Target has a history of invigorating neighborhoods, including Harlem. She thought residents might appreciate the ability to “buy a tennis racket” in addition to just food. As a developer, she said her team understands the neighborhoods’ concerns but are looking at all the options.
Jorge Mendoza said, “The neighborhood already has a relationship with Stop & Shop going back to when they were on Cambridge Street. Changing directions now would not be well-received by the neighborhood.” The Cambridge Street location is now occupied by Whole Foods. Council members said that public officials have promised the neighborhood an affordable supermarket for the new Bulfinch Triangle development.
Stop & Shop has proposed a 40,000 square foot supermarket on the first floor, however, the developer appears intrigued by the Target concept that would fill the second floor as well for 75,000 square feet in total. The Target concept will have almost no parking with most shoppers expected to come from within walking distance. Stop & Shop is proposing 60 parking spots.
Economically, the developer could prefer the Target Corp. proposal because it leases two floors of the building instead of one and uses less space for parking. Target and Stop & Shop appear to be the finalists, although Trinity also talked to Hannafords, Wegmans and Market Basket.
Target has proposed an urban concept called “P-Fresh” providing 90% of what a typical supermarket offers, without features like a butcher or deli. Council members questioned this assertion because most of the food at Target stores is processed or frozen.
Trinty was the developer of the neighboring Avenir Archstone apartment building, that is now 95% leased and occupied according to Ms. Barnat. College students have found the property to be attractive because the building allows for multiple students to share a single apartment.
The proposed $150 million “One Canal” project will look similar in design to the neighboring Avenir, but it will be higher at 146 feet versus 120 for the Avenir buildings. “It will be like the Avenir, with a supermarket concept. We plan to use the same contractor.”
Trinity wants to move fast. A decision could be made in the next few weeks between Target and Stop & Shop. The developer intends to go to the Boston Redevelopment Authority with a project design in October. Construction is expected to begin in the Summer or Fall of 2011. The developer will return to the neighborhood council with design boards in the near future.
NEWNC member Mario Alfano noted that Target has withdrawn its sponsorship for next year’s Boston Ahts Festival. The City of Boston will have to significantly scale down the event without the funding. The festival was held just last weekend at Christopher Columbus Park.
In other business, NEWNC voted 5-2 to support the variances needed for the renovation of 133 Salem St., including converting a headhouse into a penthouse bringing the top floor to 50 feet. The ground floor was formerly occupied by Sheldon’s Discount store. The council deferred a proposed variance at 65 Salem St., formerly Go Bananas, because the proponent has not received a denial letter from Inspectional Services.
More information on NEWNC can be found at www.NEWNCBoston.org. The October NEWNC meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 12th (see the Calendar). This is a change from the usual 2nd Monday of the month, in observance of the Columbus Day holiday.