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Target’s Capital Plan: Deploy Diplomacy to Grab D.C. Retail Site

Target Stores is quietly negotiating with developers and city officials to buy space in Washington’s new D.C. USA retail complex.

The future home of the DC USA retail complex and likely the first Target store in the nation’s capital

The future home of the D.C. USA retail complex and likely the first Target store in the nation’s capital.

Photo By Kyle Samperton

WASHINGTON — Target Stores has a knack for linking cultural largess to proposed new store openings. That’s exactly what the Minneapolis retailer has been doing in the nation’s capital this spring as it quietly negotiates with developers and city officials to buy space in the city’s new D.C. USA retail complex.

The property is being developed by GRID properties of New York, whose senior partner, Drew Greenwald, put together Harlem USA on 125th Street in Manhattan.

Target has been talking with District of Columbia officials since 1996, when it raised money to renovate the Washington Monument about locating a store in the city. But until now, all the store openings have been in the suburbs.

One indication that Target was finally serious about making good on that pledge came about six months ago when the chain, which three years ago turned down the offer, agreed to become the first retailer to fund an art exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, hosting a gala opening this month of the new Frederick Remington exhibit "The Color of Night," which is on display through July 6.

The night of the gala, Mayor Anthony Williams lauded Target for its commitment to the city before a crowd of U.S. senators, Supreme Court justices and art patrons. The night before the gala, corporate officials invited District government representatives to a private dinner in a local restaurant to discuss their plans to buy property in the new 546,000-square-foot retail mall in the Columbia Heights section of the city.

"It was kismet," said John Remington, Target’s vice president for special events and publicity, explaining his decision to sponsor the Gallery project after turning it down three years ago.

"They just weren’t ready. I don’t think they were quite invested in Washington," recalled Christine Myers, the Gallery’s chief of corporate relations, who talked to Remington about getting Target to sponsor the exhibit.

Target’s vice president, who noted that family lore claims a distant blood connection to the artist of the same surname, saw the show and liked the paintings, but he turned down the offer. Myers moved on and found a new sponsor.
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