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Target’s not coming to Water Tower Place, alderman says

The discount retailer had asked about the former Macy’s space, according to Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd). Its inquiry spurred conversations about the future of the Michigan Avenue retail corridor.

The exterior of Water Tower Place in Chicago
Water Tower Place won’t be getting a Target to replace Macy’s, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) says.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Target is no longer considering a lease of the former Macy’s space in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, a downtown alderman said Friday, knocking down a prospect that drew debate over whether a discount retailer was suitable for a historically high-end mall.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said Target is no longer negotiating with Water Tower owner Brookfield Properties. He cited information he received from a source in retail property brokerage that he would not name.

Hopkins, whose ward includes the mall, also said Brookfield has promised to keep him apprised about plans for the former Macy’s space, which reached nine levels at 835 N. Michigan Ave. “Brookfield management continues to assure me there is substantial interest in their vacant space. I don’t sense any panic from Brookfield at all,” Hopkins said.

Brookfield spokeswoman Lindsay Kahn had no comment about Target or specific tenants being sought. “We will publicly share news with our community when we are able,” she said.

Hopkins had reported Target’s inquiry about Water Tower in March.

The retailer also has reportedly inquired about ground-floor space just across Chestnut Street from Water Tower at 875 N. Michigan Ave., the former John Hancock Center. A Target spokesperson said Friday, “We are continually evaluating potential store locations to serve new guests, but I don’t have any new-store news to share.”

Macy’s closing in March came as retailers were struggling with new buying habits during a pandemic that kept shoppers at home. The department store chain, which continues on State Street, had accounted for nearly half the retail space at Water Tower.

The possibility of Target’s logo on the Magnificent Mile drew debate among area residents and business leaders. Some said the discounter would help the area recover from increasing vacancies attributed to the pandemic and last summer’s civil disturbances.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas was a prominent critic of Target, taking to a radio station to say its presence on a premier shopping thoroughfare would be “embarrassing to this city.” Target also faced criticism for opening stores here in white neighborhoods while closing two that serve Black areas.

Hopkins speculated that the criticism and last year’s violence downtown may have led Target to give up on Water Tower. “They’re never going to say that, but I did get the sense that we needed to have a good summer season with minimal incidents” to help the area recover this year, he said. “And that applies to the residents as well as businesses.”