Courtenay council gave the green light this week to Target for an addition of nearly 25,000 square feet to the existing Zellers store.
Council unanimously approved a development permit for the expansion, which would extend the store over the parking lot at the south end of the mall to 29th Street — with extensive landscaping for 15 metres between the street and the store.
Laurie Schmidt, of Brook Pooni Associates in Vancouver, spoke to council Monday on behalf of the expansion, noting the esthetic upgrades to the entire Zellers store will be modern.
“They (Target) like a very clean, a very modern store — you’ll never see any outdoor displays, you’ll never see garden centres within a Target, it’s always very clean — very bright, very modern, a very crisp design,” he told council, adding even outside shopping cart storage will be hidden behind a screening wall.
He also said Target typically employs close to double the amount of people that current Zellers stores do, though because he is involved in the building planning side of things, he couldn’t answer Coun. Jon Ambler’s question about how the hiring process would work and what may happen to current Zellers employees.
Target was unable to respond in time for the Record’s deadline.
Community involvement is important to the store, according to Schmidt.
“They’re very involved in the community through volunteer. They also have a substantial give-back, cash give-back to the communities in which they’re located — upwards in the area of five per cent of their gross incomes are given back to the communities in which they’re located,” he said, adding a percentage of card holder purchases are donated to a school of that cardholder’s choice as well.
Coun. Doug Hillian asked what Comox Valley residents could expect in terms of the quality of the product the store will offer.
“They deal in higher-end designer labels — they will commission designers to do work exclusively for them — but they’re also very cognizant of the discount name that goes along with it,” Schmidt told Hillian. “You’ll certainly find, no offence, but a higher level of choices than you would with, let’s say a Zellers.”
Coun. Manno Theos noted the store coming to Courtenay proves it has confidence in the community and will likely revitalize the area.
According to Schmidt, 17 Target stores are slated to replace Zellers stores across the province during this phase of Target’s Canadian emergence.
In January, Target purchased up to 220 leaseholds currently operated as Zellers stores for $1.825 billion from the Hudson Bay Company, which owns the Zellers subsidiary.
Target is expected to announce more store sites in September.