Loop Target: July 29, 2012

The Sullivan Center

The Sullivan Center

For more than a year, people have been wandering past the Sullivan Center (formerly the Carson Pierie Scott flagship store at 33 South State Street) wondering when the Loop’s new CityTarget would open.  We now have an answer: Sunday, July 29, 2012.

For those with the retail bug, or who just hate seeing one of Chicago’s iconic buildings going to waste, it’s been agonizing walking past dusty windows with no signs of progress inside.

Now the windows are protected from the inside by plywood, and work is moving forward toward the mid-Summer opening.

After opening 1,750 stores in 49 states (Vermont is the final frontier), the next phase of expansion for Target is the small urban market. Target is taking its  CityTarget concept to a number of downtowns including Seattle, Dallas, Denver, New York, and Miami.  If you’ve ever been to the flagship target store in Minneapolis (900 Nicollet Mall) you’ve had a taste of what to expect.  

Interestingly, one of the biggest reasons Target chose the Loop for its expansion is access to transit.  The two closest CTA L stops handle four million people a year, plus the hundreds of buses that pass on State, Madison, and Monroe Streets each day.

The Sullivan Center

The Sullivan Center

Unfortunately, Target will not reopen the tunnel connecting the Sullivan Center to the Monroe Red Line subway station.  In fact, Target didn’t even know there was a connection until after it started working in the building.  The retailer has no interest in the basement level of the building, as it prefers its shopping experience to be above ground, and says if the subway passage is going to be reopened, that’s up to the building owner, since it only has a 15 or 20 year lease.

Target’s senior design project architect, Heather Sexton, took great pains in designing the store not to try to copy, imitate, or otherwise mock the work of master architect Louis Sullivan.  The store’s design is deliberately sleek, modern, and minimalist in order to highlight Sullivan’s architectural flourishes like the columns.  She believes that, just like when it was built in the late 1800’s, the architecture of the Sullivan Center draws people in and makes them feel special.  She wants to use the architecture to, “elevate the shopping experience.”

 More details on the Chicago Loop CityTarget:

  • Opening day: Sunday, July 29, 2012.
  • 124,000 square feet of space on the first and second floors of the Sullivan Center.
  • Four reasons for selecting this location:
  • No store in The Loop right now.
  • Lots of people in the area day and night.
  • State Street is a prime retail environment.
  • Lots of public transit nearby.
  • Will offer a selection of best-selling merchandise and items targeted at urban dwellers.
  • Instead of a Target Cafe serving hot dogs and pizzas, there will be a Pret a Manger with grab-and-go meals for office workers looking for lunch, or commuters and residents who don’t want to cook dinner.
  • Target worked with federal, state, and local preservation agencies and private organizations to make sure the landmark architecture was treated with respect.
  • There will be no signs on the exterior of the building.
  • Signage will be in the form of 9’x6′ painted aluminum panels, perforated with thousands of little holes forming geometric patterns and Target bullseyes.
  • The panels will be set three feet back from the windows to allow people outside to see in to the selling floor.
  • The panels will be arranged so that from afar they appear to be one continuous banner.
  • The panels will be used to obscure the view into the second-floor stockroom, but still placed so that people on the ground level can see the ornamental ceiling.
  • The panels with bullseyes are considered signs, not decorations, and so the city would not allow the bullseyes to be at every window.
  • The second floor of the Wabash Avenue side of the building will have red and white panels alternating as the architecture changes with each building in that row.  
  • People on the L will be able to see inside the store to selling floor in two places.
  • This will be Target’s first full-scale experiment with display windows, complete with mannequins demonstrating the merchandise, instead of just banners with pictures of what’s for sale.
  • The first floor of the building will resemble a vintage department store.
  • The shelves will be pulled away from the windows, helping with the transparency of the building.  Circulation will be around the outer perimeter of the building.  
  • This is the first Target store with the cash registers in the back, instead of up front by the main entrance.
  • First Floor: Accessories, checkouts, health and beauty aids, cosmetics, pharmacy, Pret a Manger, apparel, stationery.
  • Second Floor: Grocery, Toys, etc… 
  • The rotunda at the corner of State and  Madison will have a large, internally illuminated, acrylic Target bullseye hanging in the middle on a clear acrylic panel.
  • People will be able to walk into the second floor of the rotunda and look out the windows.
  • There will be no store-provided parking.
  • There will be a loading areas on Madison for people picking up large or heavy items with their personal car, or people flagging down taxis.
  • Target received no federal, state, or local incentives for choosing this location or opening the store.




Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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