Updated: November 7, 2012 at 12:00 am
Target will close its longtime store at Academy Boulevard and Platte Avenue early next year, another blow to aging, retail-depleted sections of South and Central Academy that Colorado Springs officials have identified as troubled areas.
The store, at 335 N. Academy, will close Feb. 2, Target said Wednesday. The Minneapolis-based retailer also announced it’s shuttering three stores in Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.
The retailer cited financial reasons for closing the Springs store, which was built in 1969 and has about 131,000 square feet of space.
“The decision to close a Target store is not made lightly,” spokeswoman Molly Snyder said via email. “We decide to close a store after careful consideration of the long-term financial performance of a particular location. Typically, a store is closed as a result of seeing several years of decreasing profitability.”
The “vast majority” of the store’s roughly 70 employees are being offered the option to transfer to Target’s four other local stores, she said. Target has locations farther north on North Academy and near the Colorado Springs World Arena and larger SuperTarget stores — with full lines of groceries — on Powers Boulevard and on the Springs’ far northeast side.
Target is the latest retailer to either close or relocate a store from Central and South Academy, older areas where household incomes are lower than in faster-growing north and northeast portions of the Springs.
This year, Safeway closed a grocery at Academy and North Carefree Circle, while Sports Authority relocated a store from Academy and Palmer Park boulevards to the city’s southwest side.
Other retailers have left Central and South Academy over the last 10 to 15 years because of a poor economy or because they wanted to be along Powers Boulevard — the corridor a few miles to the east that has become arguably the area’s No. 1 retail destination with several newer shopping centers that cater to higher-income households.
Best Buy and Wal-Mart closed stores on Academy years ago, and eventually opened on Powers. The Rustic Hills and Rustic Hills North shopping centers, at Academy and Palmer Park, are virtual ghost towns after the closing or relocation of Albertsons, TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby and others.
Circuit City closed its store next to Target at Academy and Platte when the electronics retailer went out of business in early 2009. And more closings are on the way; Wal-Mart has said it will move its Sam’s Club warehouse store on South Academy to a new shopping center several miles farther south on Academy, near Pikes Peak Community College and Fort Carson.
Broker Jay Carlson of Front Range Commercial said he thought Target would have closed the Academy and Platte location when it opened the store on Powers about a decade ago.
“I’m sure they let it go until it didn’t make any economic sense,” Carlson said. “They want to be in the latest and greatest retail locations and that’s (Central and South Academy) just not it anymore.”
When the Target store was built and the nearby Citadel mall followed in 1972, the area was a regional retail hub that served perhaps a 10-mile radius, Carlson said.
Now that Powers has taken off, and other shopping centers have been built on the north, northeast and southwest sides, the Academy-and-Platte area serves perhaps a 2-mile radius, although The Citadel continues to draw shoppers from farther distances, Carlson said.
Marty Johnson of CB Richard Ellis, who markets the Academy Tower strip center along Academy near the Target store, said the corridor remains a popular retail destination.
But because of the changing demographics, some retail shopping centers along South and Central Academy have become home to mom-and-pop retailers who serve nearby neighborhoods.
The Target store still has a future, although not necessarily as a big box. Carlson said multiple smaller retailers might be attracted to the location, while Johnson said the building could have a future as a warehouse or maybe a senior living center.
City government officials — including previous Mayor Lionel Rivera, current Mayor Steve Bach and city administrators — have targeted southeast Colorado Springs and the Central and South portions of Academy as ripe for major improvements.
“It is a setback, but it’s also an opportunity,” Bob Cope, of Colorado Springs’ economic development division, said of the Target closing. “We’re going to have redevelopment opportunities up and down that corridor. This one is very well located at a major interchange and we think it would have some real benefit.”
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