Opening Day is almost a year away, but the community of La Cañada Flintridge is abuzz — cheering and worrying — about the Target that’s going to set up shop in the Town Center.
News broke last week that the nation’s second-largest general merchandise retailer signed to open in the former Sport Chalet space next July. When asked, local shoppers have had no problem identifying what it is they’d purchase: pajamas, pet supplies, toothpaste, clothes, books, DVDs, school supplies, makeup, underwear.
“I go to Target all the time in Eagle Rock or Pasadena,” said Darlene Underwood, who already visits the Town Center regularly to have coffee and a bite with her friends Marlene Rust and Mary Anderson. “This will be just more convenient.”
“It’ll be great, and it will bring jobs,” said Anderson, before adding the thought that’s crossed many shoppers’ minds: “The only thing is that the parking here is already really tight [so] the parking is going to be unbearable because there’s going to be many more people parking than for Sport Chalet.”
“It’s going to be a mess, I’m telling you,” said Bruce Taylor, owner of Taylor’s Steak House, which is a part of the Town Center.
Taylor and city officials have “sparred” for years about the retail complex, including over parking: “Our traffic has never been good. At Christmas time the past few seasons, people are driving in circles, trying to find parking,” he said.
Overall, though, Taylor said there have been improvements since a parking management company was contracted by IDS Real Estate Group, which purchased the Town Center in 2011 from La Cañada Properties Inc., the company controlled by the Olberz family who founded Sport Chalet.
For the past four years, IDS has used Motor Park, a Pasadena-based parking ambassador program, to help monitor traffic on the premises between 11 a.m.-10 p.m. from Thursday-Sunday and from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The number of Town Center parking stalls — there are 502, including 171 spaces on the roof of the building Target will occupy — was determined in 2006 according to types of tenants and square footage, according to Robert Stanley, LCF’s director of community development.
According to a Town Center brochure promoting the previously unleased anchor space, there are more than five stalls for every 1,000 square foot of space.
“The City Council approved the center with the parking proposed based on a parking and traffic study,” Stanley wrote in an email. “The Target store is a retail use, which is permitted, replacing another retail use and the parking requirement is the same.”
Stanley said Target has plans to add another elevator to the rooftop parking lot and to improve way-finding signage to direct drivers to the roof, which likely will be the preferred parking place for those hauling red carts full of merchandise to their vehicles.
“Many of the phone calls I have been responding to, once I tell them there is parking on the roof, they seem to be fine,” Stanley said. “Many did not know.”
Anderson did, and she said she expects to be using that upstairs lot — which was, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, empty except for two cars.
“I hope it stimulates the economy. I hope people are satisfied and I hope parking and traffic is not as bad as people fear,” LCF parent Octavia Thuss said. “There’s a lot, as a lay person, I’m not schooled in, so I take it in good faith that people are making good choices about what’s good for them and possibly for us.
“I hope it’s sustainable because I know that people in the community get disappointed when things close and it sends a little bit of a fear ripple out there … but I think it’s absolutely fine. We live in a county of 10 million people; I think we can fit another Target.”
Adam Ralphs, owner of Sports Clips, the men’s grooming salon in the Town Center, is enthusiastically awaiting Target’s opening.
“The goal when you put a store like mine in a big center that has an anchor is that people will go there for that anchor and then see what else is there,” said Ralphs, whose shop is located inside of the center and isn’t visible from Foothill Boulevard. “If a mother brings her kids or family and is looking around and having some lunch, maybe they don’t need a haircut this time, but they’ll know we’re there.”
He said he expects Target will do a good job tailoring the store — considered small-format in the 45,000-square foot space — to the LCF community.
“The high-end Target concept will fit well,” Ralphs said. “We lived without an anchor there for a year, to get a national brand store like this Target is very beneficial not only to our store, but to the center and the community. Overall, I think it’s going to be awesome.”
As he finished off an order from the Habit Burger Grill, Arthur Ayvazian reminisced about the retailer that formerly anchored the Town Center.
“Oh man, I loved Sport Chalet. It was the best,” said Ayvazian, a snowboarder who grew up shopping at the original Sport Chalet ski shop. “It always felt really cool because it was the entranceway to Angeles Crest. I miss it.”
He said he doesn’t imagine he’ll frequent Target with the same regularity that he did Sport Chalet, but he’ll probably stop in for undergarments.