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Target close to deal to move into old Carsons on State Street

CarsPirie Scott moved out its landmark building State Street 2007. | sun-times library

Carson Pirie Scott moved out of its landmark building on State Street in 2007. | sun-times library

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In a sign that big-box retailers are working harder to squeeze into tight urban spaces, Lake View is due to get a miniature Wal-Mart while downtown’s State Street is in line for a Target.

Real estate sources said Thursday that both deals are in the final stages. Target would become the retail anchor of the former Carson Pirie Scott store at 1 S. State, a Chicago landmark designed by Louis Sullivan.

The Lake View Wal-Mart, planned for a plaza at 2840 N. Broadway, would be the retailer’s first Chicago site for its Neighborhood Market format. The style calls for stores of from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet, about a third of the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, although the retailer is experimenting with even smaller locations.

Target has been interested in the old Carson’s building, now called Sullivan Center, for months. Two sources said a lease is close to be completed, but details could not be learned.

A spokeswoman for the Sullivan Center developer, Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, said it would make no comment without a signed lease. Target executives could not be reached. A broker representing Target in Chicago, Joe Sauer of Sierra Group Inc., declined to comment.

The million-square-foot Sullivan Center combines office and retail space, with the office portion leasing up more quickly. Tenants include the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the architectural firm Gensler and an office for Walgreens. Carson’s closed its store in 2007.

Allen Joffe, principal at Baum Realty Group, said Target and Wal-Mart are both aggressively pursuing deals. “Target is sniffing around the dense urban core, everywhere from Hyde Park up to Lincoln Park,” he said.

Joffe is involved in neither the State Street nor Lake View deals. “Wal-Mart and Target are both trying to be adaptive and creative” with stores that cater to walkable neighborhoods, he said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said the company is “having many conversations with brokers and developers” about sites across the city. But he said Wal-Mart has no projects to announce and has not “executed a contract on any new sites.”

Restivo refused to confirm or deny interest in the 134,000-square-foot building at 2840 N. Broadway known as Broadway at Surf. Its current tenants include T.J. Maxx, Cost Plus World Market and Bed Bath & Beyond, and it has rooftop parking for 129 cars.

Marketing brochures show about 20,000 square feet available for lease, but Wal-Mart may need additional space that’s available for sublease. The space used to be occupied by a PetSmart. A Wal-Mart deal could require that PetSmart be bought out of its lease.

Restivo said Wal-Mart has 150 Neighborhood Markets around the country. “They are a mid-sized store that offers full grocery and a more limited selection of general merchandise. What that format allows us to do is be more flexible in our approach to neighborhoods,” he said.

Target has been given free rein to move into Chicago, but labor activists have created obstacles for Wal-Mart. Last summer, Wal-Mart agreed to pay its starting city employees 50 cents above Illinois’ minimum wage to secure approval for two new full-size stores on the South Side.

The world’s largest retailer wants to open 24 new Chicago stores of varying sizes.

Lake View Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) noted that there are a “number of vacant stores” in the decade-old Broadway on Surf building and “the idea of filling those vacant stores is good.” But Tunney said he has yet to see a proposal from Wal-Mart.

Already, at least one local resident has started a Facebook site aimed at blocking the Lake View Wal-Mart.

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