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Will Santa Barbara Ever Get a Target Store?

After years of work and complicated property negoitations, plans for a Target store in Goleta ended this fall with the retailer walking away from plans to build in the area. But the retailer says it will consider new opportunities in the future.

When the effort started two years ago, three sites were considered, but the corner at Hollister and Los Carneros in Goleta became the focus of negotiations. Placing a Target store at that location involved talks between Target and the existing business at the site, the Goleta Valley Athletic Club.

GVAC had a long-term lease and had no interest in leaving, but eventually it did reach an agreement with Target to relocate, according to Brad Frohling, partner at Radius Real Estate. His company was involved in negotiations with Target, GVAC and the owner of the existing building.

“They (Target) were aggressive, they spent a lot of money, they were in,” Frohling said.

But after negotiations were completed and other significant regulatory hurdles were cleared, the retailer decided to walk away from the deal. “They were the ones who said they weren’t going forward,” Frohling said.

The agreement fell through sometime in late August or early September. Word hadn’t circulated much about the failed deal, until Thursday when the issue was discussed at the 7th Annual Radius Real Estate and Economic Forecast meeting.

At the meeting, speculation on the Target decision included the high cost that would have been necessary to relocate GVAC. One economist said Target should have attempted to locate in the Hollister Village site, a development currently under construction in Goleta across Hollister Avenue from Costco and Best Buy.

There was no definitive word on ‘why’ Target decided to stop moving forward. Frohling said he was never given a specific reason, but speculated it could have been a combination of factors including the credit card data breach Target suffered last year, or the strain of opening many new stores in Canada.

For now, the only big box discount department store operating in the Santa Barbara area is KMart. That facility at the corner of Hollister and Storke is the second most profitable in the KMart chain, behind a location on Maui, according to Frohling.

In an email response to reporter questions, Target declined to comment on the state of any pending or future development plans.

“Goleta is a great market for Target and we continue to consider new opportunities to serve guests there. However, I have nothing to share at this time around plans for a new store,” said spokeswoman Kristen Emmons

Real estate experts speculate Target may never build in the Santa Barbara area, citing slow growth policies and limited land for development.

“Will it circle back? Maybe, but right now it’s cold as ice,” Frohling said.

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