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Target exit will leave a hole on the South Side

11/7/2018, noon | Updated on 11/7/2018, noon

Target exit will leave a hole on the South Side

BY WENDELL HUTSON

Contributing Writer

Almost twice a week Toy Whiteurst said she goes to the Target store in Chatham to shop and get some exercise from walking.

“This is a big store so you’re going to do a lot of walking if you come here,” said Whiteurst. “I don’t mind all the walking because it’s exercise for me. I love coming here to shop because I get some good deals and I don’t have to leave my neighborhood to spend my money.”

But her weekly routine will change come February 2, 2019 when Target Corp. plans to close its Chatham store, 8560 S. Cottage Grove Ave., and Morgan Park store, 11840 S. Marshfield Ave., along with four other stores nationally.

“Our decision to close the stores at 11840 S. Marshfield Ave. and 8560 S. Cottage Grove Ave. is based on the performance of the stores and is not about a neighborhood or geography,” Jacqueline DeBuse, a spokeswoman for Target Corp., told the Chicago Citizen. “(And before closing a store) Target takes into account many factors, including the performance and profitability of a store over several years.”

The 126,000-square-foot Chatham store opened in 2002 and employs 120 people, according to DeBuse. And the 128,000-square-foot Morgan Park store opened in 2008 and employs 115 people. Employees will be given the option to transfer to another area store, added DeBuse.

After the closures, Target will have 19 Chicago stores remaining including three on the South Side in McKinley Park, Archer Heights and Hyde Park. Two more Chicago stores are planned to open by 2020 in Rogers Park and Logan Square, said DeBuse.

“Target is continuing to invest in Chicago and the surrounding area, including completing 18 remodels in 2018 and opening a handful of new stores,” explained DeBuse. “And our commitment to the Chicago community is ongoing. In 2017, Target donated $3.9 million in cash and product donations to area non-profits, performed more than 11,000 volunteer hours and donated more than 510,000 pounds of food in Chicago.”

Following the closures Target, which owns both buildings, plans to “actively market the buildings for sale,” added DeBuse.

The future use of the Chatham store is a big concern for the Chatham Business Association.

“Chatham is a very savvy community and will not support a business it does not want,” said Melinda Kelly, president of the CBA. “(For example) I don’t think the community would support a beauty supply store at that location.”

The nonprofit CBA was instrumental in advocating for a Target store when it opened a Chatham store 16 years ago, and “we would like to be part of the conversation when it comes to Target leaving the community,” added Kelly.

Local organizations like the Greater Chatham Alliance worry what will happen to the Chatham store if the building remains vacant for a long time.

“We [Chatham community] don’t want our shopping area to experience the same effects the 71st and Jeffrey mall went through [in 2014] after losing an anchor store,” said Richard Wooten, a retired Chicago police officer who is now president of the Greater Chatham Alliance. “The Target closure will not only take away jobs and revenue from the community, but also put a strain on our seniors and families seeking household and personal goods within our community.”