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Metreon scores big-box Target

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Shoppers could be finding the deal on Aisle 4 of a Target store in the Metreon as soon as early 2012 now that the project has gained approval.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency unanimously approved the plans Target needed to build its 100,000-square-foot store on the first and second floors of the Metreon, which has been plagued by vacancies the past year.

The latest approval means the Metreon sign will be replaced with Target’s signature bull’s-eye signage.

The Minneapolis-based corporation has more than 1,700 stores nationwide, making it the 10th-largest retail chain in the world based on sales, according to Forbes. Currently, city residents have to trek to locations in Daly City or Colma if they want to purchase household items such as beauty and health products, appliances, home furnishings, clothes and pet supplies at a Target.

Although San Francisco does not bend easily for big-box retailers, this particular project seemed to sail through — even in the wake of controversy over political donations.

Target received criticism after the company contributed $150,000 to MN Forward, a business group that supported outspoken conservative Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer, who has opposed same-sex marriage and other gay rights initiatives.

“I don’t think San Francisco will let any big-box retailer walk in,” said Donna Egan, a spokeswoman for Target. “They look for specific attributes, and we are thrilled we can meet their needs.”

One of the attributes that cannot be overlooked is Target’s capacity to inject hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars into the local economy. For that reason alone, city officials have embraced the proposal.

The store will create as many as 250 permanent jobs and generate an estimated $1.7 million in sales tax revenue annually, according to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

“The newly renovated and re-tenanted Metreon — with restaurants and retailers on the first floor, Target on the second floor and AMC theaters on the third floor — will attract millions of visitors each year, generating jobs, taxes and economic benefits to the Yerba Buena area and the entire city,” said Amy Neches, the project manager.

In July, Target announced its plans to open a store at the Metreon, which was quickly gaining a reputation for being an economic failure.

The Westfield Group, which owns the Metreon, plans to redesign the ground floor so most of the individual stores along Fourth Street and Mission Street will have entrances opening directly onto the sidewalk. The corner of the building at Fourth and Mission streets will turn into a glassy entrance lobby for Target, with a cafe that looks out through large windows and escalators that take customers to the store above.

While it will be The City’s first Target, the company is already moving ahead with plans for another 100,000-square-foot store, on Geary Boulevard at Masonic Avenue. That store, which still needs city approval, also would create 250 new jobs, according to Egan.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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