The famous Target bull's-eye is on the Chester County hamlet of Lionville, but residents are wondering if the savvy retailer may be missing the mark.
More than 100 residents jammed into Uwchlan Township's new meeting room Monday night to hear details of a Target store proposed for the corner of Dowlin Forge Road and Eagleview Boulevard.
The fact that it would be less than three miles away from an existing Target in Exton left people incredulous. So were the township supervisors, who were presiding over a conditional-use hearing for the store.
Supervisor Joe Toner asked why the company didn't expand the Exton store rather than build a new one. Target representative Ronald C. Bailey said Targets are so popular in this area that there is no question the region can support two of them.
"An additional store for certain markets is warranted to achieve the opportunities we see there," said Bailey, adding that the company's internal research showed that both stores will succeed.
"We've done cost analyses," said Bailey. "When you crunch all the numbers, this is showing to be a profitable location without harming the others."
With 1,500 stores in the growing chain, he said that Target's typical customer, or "guest," is a soccer mom, of which there is no shortage in fast-growing Chester County.
The site for the proposed 127,000-square-foot store is an 18-acre field on the southwest corner of Eagleview and Dowlin Forge that has been commercially zoned for years.
In addition to the Target, plans proposed by site owner LTK Associates call for a bank on one corner, a 200-seat, family-style restaurant on another corner, and a one-acre addition to a nearby township park.
A strip shopping center anchored by a Giant supermarket is next door, and on the other side of Eagleview are a drugstore, a paint store, and a couple of fast-food restaurants.
Backing up to the site is Windham, a small development of half-million dollar homes, whose owners for the most part are not happy about the proposed store.
Timberlake Townes, a principal in LTK Associates, said he met with members of the Windham Homeowners Association at their annual meeting in December.
"We promised years ago that when it came time to develop, we would create a landscaped berm area," said Townes. The berm would separate and screen the houses from the back of the store and prevent stormwater from running into the backyards, he said.
But residents and officials are also worried that the store will end up abandoned like the nearby Regal movie theater, which has sat empty for years.
"We are adding 125 stores a year," said Bailey. "Our strategy is to add stores, not close them."
Attention to details like landscaping and lighting can help mitigate the effects of a big-box store in the neighborhood, said David Ward, assistant director of the Chester County Planning Commission.
"I think the lifestyle of today's market warrants these in the appropriate locations," he said. "But they do impact surrounding areas."
He said that recent plans submitted to his agency show big-box stores planned for East Whiteland, New Garden and Lower Oxford, which has been dealing with a Wal-Mart proposal for seven years.
"In 2005 they found some bog turtles and had to move some things around," said Lower Oxford zoning officer Deborah Kinney. After dealing with Wal-Mart protesters for so many years, she said she was surprised to learn that people were against a Target.
While Uwchlan Township residents may be dismayed about the store, there is little they can do to keep it out, said Janet Milkman, president and chief executive officer of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, a smart-growth advocacy organization.
"State law says that every municipality has to provide for every type of use," she said. Additionally, projects like this are not necessarily driven by consumer interest or need.
"Just because there is a Target three miles away in Exton doesn't mean somebody can't make money off a Target in Uwchlan," she said. "It's kind of cannibalistic competition."
Supervisors Chairman Fred Gaines said the proposed store is a block away from the intersection of Routes 113 and 100, one of the busiest intersections in Chester County. It is also about a mile from the Downingtown interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
"If you own a piece of ground zoned like that in a prime commercial area, it's only a matter of time before something comes along," Gaines said.
Another hearing on the proposal is set for Feb. 12.