ST. LOUIS — During the week, Saint Louis University’s campus shuttles ferry students around campus, stopping at classes and campus buildings. But on Saturdays, the only shuttle is for shopping.
Eight times each weekend, SLU’s shopping shuttle takes students on a 20-minute drive to the closest retail center to campus. One of its most popular stops is the Target at the Brentwood Promenade shopping center. The bus also stops at Walmart and Whole Foods.
But starting in summer 2023, SLU students looking to shop in Midtown won’t need to catch a shuttle to St. Louis County. Residents of Reinert Hall, a freshman dormitory, will be a three-minute walk from a new 70,000-square-foot Target store.
Richmond Heights-based developer Pier Property Group announced in October that a Target will anchor The Edwin, a new $60 million apartment and retail project it's developing next to SLU along Grand Boulevard between Gratiot and Papin streets. Construction started this month.
Officials with the university said they had tried for nearly a decade to convince Target to open a store in Midtown. Now they, along with other local retail experts, believe the Minneapolis-based retail giant could become the catalyst that draws even more retail into the city limits.
“We’ve been dreaming of a Target for a very long time,” said David Heimburger, SLU's chief financial officer, who also chairs the board of the Midtown Redevelopment Corp. that manages development on 400 acres around the campus, including The Edwin site. “It really is a game changer for our students and for Midtown.”
Landing the Target
Most of the big-box stores in the city limits are clustered on the edges of south city, such as the Lowe’s at Loughborough Commons near Interstate 55, which opened in 2007. Although new stores were still opening in that development in 2019, until this year Loughborough and the 2015 opening of Ikea near Midtown were the last large big-box retail sites built in the city limits.
University officials had been talking to Target for a decade, but finding a space to fit a full-size store — which the retailer says averages around 130,000 square feet — was difficult. Michael Hamburg, owner of Pier Property Group, said he had long heard "rumblings" that Target desired a Midtown location, so he "cold called" company representatives in February or March.
The prospect of landing a new St. Louis store had become more likely in the past several years, when Target began opening smaller-format stores in urban centers and around colleges. Those stores are typically around 40,000 square feet but can be as small as 12,000 square feet. As of 2019, Target said it had more than two dozen small-format stores on or near college campuses.
At 70,000 square feet, the new Midtown store will land between the typical small-format and large-format stores. But people involved in the deal say the Edwin location was attractive to Target because of how it offers some of the benefits of both formats.
Target was drawn to The Edwin for its close proximity to the SLU campus, but also because, unlike other urban Target stores, it will also have room for traditional parking lots, said real estate broker Rick Spector of L3 Corp., who represented Pier in the Target transaction.
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