OPINION: DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Recently, Minneapolis-based mega-retailer Target and Downtown landowner Brookfield Properties finally announced what many in the local real estate community had long been anticipating: the signing of a lease that will bring a store to the 7+Fig shopping mall.

The only question: What took them so long?

We recognize that lease transactions are tricky things, and that when more than 100,000 square feet are at stake, as is the case here, every little i has to be dotted and each t crossed. Yet, Downtown is a growing community with impressive demographics. With a household median income of around $100,000, and approximately 40,000 full-time residents (and more people coming), this is precisely the type of neighborhood that will patronize a Target or another “mid-level” store.

This type of corporate reluctance to take a bold step is familiar but probably unnecessary, given the area’s track record. The brass at Ralphs moved as slow as molasses in the years leading up to the summer 2007 opening of the chain’s South Park location. It was a hit from day one, as locals embraced the opportunity to buy groceries without getting into their cars.

We expect it will be the same with Target, even if the company plans to follow the molasses-speed route, and will not open until the fall of 2012. The community will likely throng the store — unless another retailer recognizes the opportunity and swoops in before them. Trader Joe’s, are you listening?

page 4, 11/15/2010

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