Target Express may take over the Antique Center (the large building with the orange stripe on the façade) on Newport Avenue. / PHOTO COURTESY OF TONY FRANCO
Likely signaling the end of the mega-antique mall era in Ocean Beach, the Target Corp. is negotiating to acquire the 18,000-square-foot Antique Center building in the 4800 block of Newport Avenue.
The large commercial building housing the antique business has been on the market listed at $6.5 million for more than a year. The building's owner is Craig Gerwig, who is also on the board of the local business improvement district, Ocean Beach Main Street Association.
Tony Franco, president of the Franco Realty Group in Pacific Beach, has been involved in brokering the OB Target Express deal.
A Target Express is a downsized version of the original Target store introduced by the chain across the country in a variety of sizes and assortments meant to create a more locally relevant big-box experience in urban areas.
Noting “landlords have done everything correct,” Franco said, during the long hunt for new tenants in the prime Newport Avenue commercial space, that “we brought this deal to all types of businesses including bowling alley operators, breweries and other grocery stores such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and received many offers to lease only a small portion of the space.”
Franco said it would have been too expensive to split the building up into four to six different smaller tenants.
Pointing out the landlord's intention “has always been to get someone to take over the antique center,” Franco added, “We couldn't find someone to step up to the price that we wanted. So we brought this deal to the market for sale and for lease.”
Franco noted “everything is still pending” about the deal, while adding he was not able to comment on the specifics of the Target deal.
“However, I would encourage the public to contact us if they want to either buy the building, take over the Antique Center or lease the building with a new concept,” said Franco.
Saad Hirmez, owner of Apple Tree Market, which just re-opened in May at 4976 Newport Ave., expressed his own concerns, and those of some others in OB, that Target's entry into the beach market could threaten existing mom-and-pops.
However, Hirmez did note that he has a verbal commitment from Target that the corporation “will try not to sell anything that competes with other local businesses.
“There are a lot of existing businesses including a brand new grocery store and a hardware store across the street,” said Hirmez. “There are two major drug stores, a Rite Aid becoming a Walgreens within 30 or 40 feet of them, as well a CVS. The question is, what is Target going to not do to compete with existing businesses?”
Hirmez said Target has however made one commitment it intends to honor in not competing with existing Obecian small businesses.
“They have said they would not be selling alcohol in their new OB Target,” he said. Hirmez said the reconstituted Apple Tree Market has been warmly received by locals.
“People are so thankful, so happy, that they got a grocery store back in OB,” he said. “We've just been overwhelmed by the response we've gotten back from the community. It's been magnificent.”