Contractor plans Target store in West Lebanon

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 12/3/2020 5:53:42 PM
Modified: 12/4/2020 8:40:46 PM

WEST LEBANON — At long last, it looks like a Target is coming to the Upper Valley.

Plans have been submitted to the city of Lebanon for approval to begin work on converting the former Kmart store on Route 12A into a Target store, sure to be welcome news to Upper Valley consumers who have been clamoring for the Minneapolis-based retail giant to bring one of its sleek and modern department stores to the region.

Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. filed a plan with the Lebanon Planning & Development Department on Nov. 24 calling for extensive demolition of the interior of the former Kmart store in what was known as the Kmart Plaza on the north side of the Interstate 89 interchange in West Lebanon.

It would be the first phase in renovating the structure for a new Target store. Whiting-Turner has extensive retail construction experience, including with Target. One of its projects was a Target in Berkeley, Calif.

The documents filed with the city specify that it would be a “small-format” store, a reference to Target stores that average 40,000 square feet, or about one-third the size of a normal 130,000-square-foot Target store. The smaller Target stores are typically aimed at urban markets but also to college towns, according to the company.

Leann Cushman, the secretary in the city’s Planning Department, said the demolition application is currently under review but she expects to have it “out the door next week.” She said Target is planning a “phased” process and a building permit application for the interior renovation of the structure is expected to follow.

“The exterior of the building will not change,” she said.

The Kmart store space was 106,038-square feet while the J.C. Penney store space in the nearby Upper Valley Plaza was 64,000 square feet.

The arrival of a Target in West Lebanon would be a significant positive development for the Route 12A big-box corridor, which has seen a succession of once-mighty retail brands close as consumers have embraced online shopping. Stores shuttered in recent years along 12A include Borders, Sears, Radio Shack, Payless shoes and, earlier this year, the back-to-back closings of J.C. Penney and Kmart, all as the result of bankruptcy.

Kmart Plaza, now sometimes known as T.J.Maxx Plaza, is owned by The Davis Companies, a Boston and New York commercial real estate company that acquired the shopping center, along with North Country Plaza along 12A in West Lebanon and Miracle Mile Plaza on Route 4 in Lebanon, from Dead River Co. in 2017 for $27.2 million.

Neither Target, Davis Companies nor or Kmart Plaza’s leasing agent, Charter Realty & Development, responded on Thursday afternoon to emails requesting comment.

Although the retail industry has been pounded in recent years with numerous closings and bankruptcies in the shift to online shopping, Target — along with select other chains such T.J.Maxx, Lowe’s and Home Depot — have grown and fared well during the coronavirus pandemic.

Target is the second piece of good news for Kmart Plaza. A new Xfinity/Comcast store is set to open in the former Payless shoes space, which has been vacant since the shoe store closed in 2018. The 2,972-square-foot space is currently under renovation.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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