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June 16, 2021

Proposed Target sails through planning commission

Target Corp. easily cleared a hurdle as the flush-with-cash corporation continued its quick move to finalize a new store at 270 Mt. Hermon Road.

During the virtual May 13 Planning Commission meeting, upgrade plans for the 57,780-square-foot space located at the Scotts Valley Square Shopping Center sailed through unanimously.

Speaking from Minnesota in front of wooden walls, Jaci Obst Bell, a Target Properties real estate developer, introduced herself.

“Happy to Zoom-meet you all,” she said in a Midwestern accent.

Kevin Pratt, the owner of the shopping center that will get a facelift as part of the project, expressed gratitude for how easily things have gone, to date.

“I feel a little odd because we’re about a month behind them in design readiness,” he said. “We’re working with the architects to get our final proposal together.”

Pratt said his team is still preparing site-furnishing drawings, such as bike racks and benches.

“I want to assure everyone we have a great working relationship with Target,” he said. “I think everyone’s going to be pleased with what they see with our final design.”

No one spoke in opposition to the development, although a handful of Bluebonnet Lane residents raised concerns about increased vehicle traffic.

“The new Target store will increase vehicle traffic on all of our side streets,” said David Jones, one of these speakers at the public hearing. “Please do your due diligence in keeping our streets safe.”

Gina Cole, executive director of Bike Santa Cruz County, suggested the city should study traffic patterns around Target, now, so it can better understand the impact the big box retailer could end up causing, later.

Members of the Traffic Safety Subcommittee have already been in contact with Bluebonnet Lane residents, said Taylor Bateman, the city’s community development director. And because Target took over a ’80s-era structure, previously a Kmart, the company wasn’t required to submit a traffic plan.

“So there hasn’t been a new traffic report since 1985?” asked Planning Commission Chair Rosanna Herrera.

“That is correct,” Bateman confirmed, though he stressed commissioners are supposed to focus their decision-making on exterior design issues.

Earlier in the meeting, the Bluebonnet Lane residents complained that traffic-calming measures for their street were left out of the five-year Capital Improvement Program, which commissioners ultimately gave the thumbs-up to.

Bateman had reminded commissioners their role isn’t to adjust the CIP, but rather to ensure it’s in line with the city’s General Plan.

In an interview with the Press Banner, Mayor Derek Timm said the city hadn’t sought development concessions when negotiating with Target, noting large retailers are the ones with the bargaining power in the current economic landscape.

Contract Planner Jonathan Kwan introduced the Target item, and asked commissioners if they had any direction about the yet-to-be-delivered exterior improvements.

“I think it’s so well done no one’s complaining,” replied Commissioner Steven Horlock.

Commissioner Chuck Maffia asked Pratt if Togo’s Sandwiches—also located in the commercial complex—will continue offering outdoor dining that was brought in during the pandemic.

In fact, he answered, plans for permanent exterior eating areas—including an enclosed children’s play area—had just landed in his inbox that very day.

“Kids can play while parents eat and that sort of thing,” he said, noting this will be in poorly-tended-to landscape feature areas, not the parking lot. “We’ll need all of that parking.”

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