We’ve been Targeted

Cities are perpetually in a state of flux. Just as easily as people come and go, businesses move in while others close up shop. It’s unrealistic to assume any area will stay the same forever.

Cities are perpetually in a state of flux. Just as easily as people come and go, businesses move in while others close up shop. It’s unrealistic to assume any area will stay the same forever. But some adjustments to the city make more of a wave than others. Though nothing has been set in concrete yet, Portland’s public is very aware that Target is making plans to move into downtown.

The Galleria on Southwest 10th Avenue and Alder has been pinpointed as their most likely place to set up business.

This new location would fit a Target store, but one customized for urban living. An edited-down version of the usually large-scale retailer, dubbed CityTarget, would inhabit the second and third floors of the Galleria, directly below Brooks Brothers and Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.

Now, I’m for convenience as much as the next guy. It’s why I live in a developed city and not somewhere out in the boonies of Oregon. And in all fairness, Target has a number of pretty high-quality things for the cost. But if Target was looking to take over the second and third floors of Smith Memorial Student Union, I’d be really cheesed off.

Of course Le Cordon Bleu will continue to educate students on the culinary arts regardless of Target’s looming occupancy. However, if I were them, I would feel as if my school was being cheapened by it. No one wants to claim that their learning goes on above a Target. It brands Le Cordon Bleu as less of an institution and more of a one-stop shop for cat litter, microwavable meals and polo shirts. The school’s interior structure will be mostly unaffected, but Target will far and wide outweigh the presence of the school from an outside standpoint. Plus the surrounding parking will have to cater to the new establishment’s influx of customers.

Aside from being a place of education, the Galleria also hosts Le Cordon Bleu’s restaurant, a fine dining facility ran by the soon-to-be-graduating chefs of the school. People entering through the grand doors will feel like they are going to buy a pair of slacks at Target, not sit down for an evening of well-crafted French cuisine.

Obviously some form of retail store would need to fill the currently vacant space, but Target will draw way more attention than another run-of-the-mill clothing or art store would. The Target Corporation is notorious for its branding. Could we see a building transformed from a beautiful piece of architecture into a building festooned with red and white logos racing along the side?

The location itself is a prime choice for convenient catering to all city dwellers. But for the future chefs of Le Cordon Bleu, it may be a point of issue.

“Well, at least I am going to be gone long before it actually happens,” said Jeriko Nicholas, a culinary student at Le Cordon Bleu.

It’s easy enough right now for all of us to put the idea on the back burner. But one day when Target has fully moved in, we may be a little less apathetic.

“I think it will really devalue Le Cordon Bleu’s education,” said Elizabeth Walsh, a student currently enrolled at the institution. “It’s going to make it far more difficult for them to draw students in. Imagine showing up at orientation and feeling like ‘this can’t possibly be the school I applied to, this is just a Target.'”

There are other locations where CityTarget could stake their claim that would be much better suited for it. And while Mayor Sam Adams finalizes plans there will probably be a growing support for, or revolt against, the decision. There is some balance of positive sentiment to the impending Target takeover at the Galleria. A major store like that will undoubtedly bring a slew of much needed jobs, as well as provide inexpensive necessities to Portlanders living close in.

But is having another point of easy access to goods worth bringing something so commercial into the heart of our city? Of course, we already have plenty of name-brand companies such as Ross, Nordstrom and Office Depot downtown. But nothing currently takes up presence like a Target- or Walmart-style store could.

Of course not every retail space in Portland can house some quaint, handmade consignment shop. But Target was designed to be constructed in, and cater to, suburbia. For the sake of Le Cordon Bleu at least, I can only hope things stay that way. ?