A record-breaking, headline-making holiday-season data breach was the Grinch that stole consumer trust (and subsequent spending sprees) from Target — and it could be one of the reasons for rumors that the big-box superstore is reconsidering its Goleta expansion. According to Greg Bartholomew — a broker who represents the owners of the property at 170 Los Carneros Way and 6466 Hollister Avenue, where a Target has been planned — the two-and-a-half-year contract between the landowners and the company expired a month ago. The company’s application with the City of Goleta remains active, Bartholomew said, adding that he’s not aware of the company exploring other area sites.
Jennifer Carman, the city’s planning director, said the company hasn’t communicated to the city any plans to move on, but she noted the company has yet to fork over the approximately $250,000 to cover the project’s environmental analysis, which would be required to get the planning process moving further. No public meetings have been held since an April 2013 Design Review Board meeting. “This is on a normal track,” Carman said. “We’ve just been in a waiting stage on Target for some time.”
“Goleta is a great market for Target, and we continue to consider new opportunities to serve guests there,” said Target spokesperson Kristen Emmons. “However, I have nothing to share at this time around plans for a new store.”
As proposed, the store would clock in at 160,000 square feet, with a first-floor parking structure, second-floor shopping area, and an outdoor eating area. To make the store fit on that site, the Goleta Valley Athletic Club would be knocked down. Club owner Jarrod Schwartz said the gym is preparing for “major renovations” and has a lease good for another 10 years. Details with Target haven’t been worked out, Schwartz said, noting that previous talks indicated that Target would pay for the club to relocate nearby.
Several South Coast insiders said they weren’t surprised to hear rumblings of trouble in Target paradise, pointing to previous failed attempts. Multiple tries to plop the store on City of Santa Barbara–owned airport property fell through, and with the city’s recent sale of eight acres of land to nonprofit Direct Relief, many said there would no longer be enough room for a Target store. Frequently floated is the idea to convert La Cumbre Plaza’s Sears store into a Target, but talks between the company and the mall as recently as a year ago went nowhere; Sears also owns what would be Target’s competitor, Kmart.
Moving the bull’s-eye further from view could be the corporation’s continuing fallout from last year’s hacking incident, which exposed the financial and personal information of more than 100 million customers, and its underwhelming expansion into Canada. The company has since undergone leadership changes, with a new CEO taking the helm this week.