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The construction in Midtown at the site of the old University Mall is probably the most talked about development in recent memory in the city of Little Rock. What's it going to be? What stores will go in? What restaurants will spring up? The development's anchor store, a Target, opened on October 10. Local officials and residents hope that it will revitalize the area.
"I'm very excited," says Stacy Hurst, city director for Ward 3 and liaison to the Midtown Redevelopment Committee. "When we first started talking about Midtown redevelopment, all of us on the committee knew that the biggest piece of the puzzle was the old University Mall. Unless we could address that effectively then the redevelopment of the Midtown corridor would be very difficult. So that's really where we set our sites — to have something positive happen on that site."
Hurst thinks Target is a good place to start. According to Jenn Glass, a spokesperson for Target, the store is known as a general merchandise P-Fresh store, which includes your normal Target fare, plus other items like fresh produce, fresh meat and expanded frozen food offerings. The store also features a Starbucks, Target Cafe and Target Pharmacy.
The store is the ninth Target in the state and the fifth in the Little Rock Market. So why Midtown? Glass says there are a number of factors that go into the company's decision on where to place a store.
"Guest surveys play a big part," Glass says. "Responding to our guest surveys, responding to trends and seeing what customers are asking for. We have a number of data points to come to those decisions, but we rely heavily on guest feedback to match the merchandise we put in our stores with the community that we're serving."
The development is designated as mixed-use and will include not only retail stores, but restaurants, office space and even an apartment complex. Hurst hopes it will give a boost to the local economy.
"People like to live in Midtown so this will give them an opportunity to do that," she says. "We've also got strong anchors in St. Vincent's and UAMS they're huge employers. And the medical community needs office space so it will really address a lot of needs and desires in the Midtown area."