The Ultimate Green Initiative for Target Stores: Condos

Target Corporation recently announced plans to become a greener company through a combination of supply chain efficiencies, store designs, and waste stream tactics. They’re great goals that should have a significant impact on the environment, considering Target’s size.

If Target manages to reduce their landfill waste by 15%, gas emissions by 10%, and water usage by 10% over the next 10 years, I’ll be impressed. However, I think Target should think bigger.

Target may be able to have an even bigger impact on the environment if they cut down the average transportation costs of visitors to their stores. Here is the issue: While it may be possible to stick 10% more on the trucks heading to Target stores, thus reducing trips and spewing less carbon to stock a store, transportation from the stores to homes remains a larger environmental cost.

Target is already fairly efficient at getting stuff from China to their stores. That’s because there is both an environmental AND financial benefit to doing this efficiently due to savings on fuel, trucks, and labor.

Target doesn’t pay for the fuel, cars, and labor involved in getting their products to your home, so the environmental cost of delivering products the last few miles from China goes unaccounted for at Target.

How could Target change this, and do so in a way that would help them both environmentally and financially? Build condos in their parking lots.

Take a look at the Target store on Lake Street at Hiawatha in Minneapolis for an example of how this could be done. Here is, approximately, how much land they have, between the store’s footprint, driveways for trucks, and parking for customers:

Target Store on East Lake Street

The southeast corner of their vast parking lot is, essentially, an asphalt wasteland in the middle of the city of Minneapolis.

Unused Parking Space at Target

Environmentally, that big piece of pavement isn’t helping anyone. However, what if a condo was sitting on that land? For example, I think the Cobalt Condominium building in NE would fit into that spot:

Cobalt Condominiums in NE Minneapolis

Cobalt is a 10 story building with 107 units ranging in size from 866 to 4,228 square feet. That would increase the number of Target shoppers within walking distance by 250 or more. And, they wouldn’t be just any Target shoppers. These would be people who would truly rely upon Target for daily trips for things like milk and eggs, pharmacy, etc.

That location would be a serious draw for people interested in walking to the ultimate in big box retail, a wide variety of excellent restaurants, and many transit options including the LRT.

Were Target to make this urban store less suburban, by bringing their customers to their doorstep, they could lower the carbon footprint of their average customer while simultaneously benefiting financially.

By the way, another place to look for inspiration is Edina. The Westin Galleria is a 446,000 sq ft building with 225 hotel rooms and 82 condos. They even built underground access to the Galleria shopping center next to Southdale, making it very easy for residents and guests to lighten their wallets without the need to drive. This happens to be across the street from a Target store, which surely profits from people walking to their store from the nearby condos and hotel rooms.

To be clear, I’m not saying that Target should build Target branded condos. I’d just like to see them make better use of their parking lots in a way that should benefit both Target and the environment by creating a living situation that’s appealing to many of their customers.

12 thoughts on “The Ultimate Green Initiative for Target Stores: Condos”

  1. Thanks Charlie.

    Closed circuit to rlibson and veg*nation: I had to restore the site to a week-old version so lost your comments from earlier today. Sorry about that.

  2. Someone should add this project to the list of high-priority projects along Lake Street, along with the reopening of Nicollet (ie, move the K-Mart aside and make it less of a suburban oasis) and the Midtown Greenway streetcar.

  3. awesome post! another thing to consider is keeping the one-level parking that they have and building condos on top of that. that way they get to keep their parking lot and still have condos (or apartments)

  4. @JBaird, you’ve piqued my curiosity, but I haven’t been able to find anything about a plan for the Broadway Cub.

    @Dez, I like your thinking. it would be awesome to see some creative ideas on how Target could, profitably, make better use of that land.

  5. When they remodeled the Lake Street store a few years ago, I was shocked that they didn’t re-align the store to its parking lot. They left the entrance next to the smallest portion of the lot, leaving the largest portion essentially empty. It’s a mess. I don’t know if condos are the answer, I wouldn’t want to live there, but what they’ve got going there now ain’t workin.

  6. Kevin, I’m not sure why they didn’t take the LRT into more consideration with the storefront. It’s a long walk from the current front door to the LRT. They’re turning their back on the thousands of prospective customers who could stop off to do some shopping on their way down the tracks.

  7. Ed I used to work for Target, and if you think any of these corporations actually think of the “Green” thing as anything more than a tactic to be seen as PC, I think you are sorely mistaken. Perhaps they will make some small changes so they can claim “We are good people” but what their “Green initiatives” amount to generally selling stupid people their reusable bags.

    Rather, I think one should go down their water aisle and note the number of people foolish enough to buy tap water in plastic bottles than they can then fill landfills with;)

  8. Eric K, if someone installs a programmable thermostat in their home, did they do it because they want to be comfortable, save money, or burn less carbon? In the end, it does all three. Financially justifiable green initiatives do exist. If Target is doing them because they really care about the environment, want to improve their bottom line, or want to get a marketing advantage, I really don’t care.

    There certainly can be plenty of greenwashing in environmental initiatives taken on by corporations, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all a charade.

  9. Yup, Here it is.

    The proposal suggests using the Cub parking lot to house multipurpose tiered use with small storefronts adjacent to the street and residential housing above the parking lot.

    I believe this was part of the West Broadway Alive proposal.

  10. Totally. I hadn’t even thought of the light rail, but you’re right. Showing the semitruck loading dock to all the passengers riding by doesn’t scream to come and shop. THe whole site is a real missed opportunity and given how recently they remodeled it, it’s not likely to change. Bummers.

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