In retail-starved downtown Denver, people would go to the opening of an envelope. But the throngs sweating on the 16th Street Mall on July 17 weren't waiting for the opening of just any store: They were there for the ribbon-cutting at the long-awaited urban Target, a streamlined version that still manages to pack into its 30,000 square feet just about anything a downtown resident or Denver visitor could want, from groceries to cosmetics to clothing to camping gear to hats emblazoned with Colorado logos (flags, not that green triangle) that were made in China.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Denver City Council member Albus Brooks, who represents downtown, recalled intially talking about bringing Target downtown back in 2011...and that wasn't even the first round of talks, which started in earnest after Woolworth's closed in 1994. Last year, the announcement finally came that Target would open one of its small-format stores at 1600 California Street, in the Gart Properties building that formerly held a food court; Denver City Council approved a $4 million tax-incentive package to seal the deal.
Mayor Michael Hancock was on hand at yesterday's ribbon-cutting to sing the praises of Target, the number-one thing that Denver's visitors had been asking for, he told the crowd. But Denver residents, especially the growing number who live downtown, had been eager for the store, too, and many followed the mayor into the space, browsing the shelves and posing for selfies with Hancock and/or Bullseye, the Target mascot formerly known as
Spot. (Perhaps the mayor and the mascot compared notes: In high school, Hancock was cajoled into portraying Huddles, a Bronco mascot.)
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Those shoppers were invited guests, but you won't have to wait to see this Target, with its two compact floors (up an escalator) tastefully stocked with must-have items. The store is opening earlier than planned (if you don't count Brooks's seven-year wait). Although grand-opening festivities are still planned for Sunday, July 22, when the first 1,000 shoppers in line for the 8 a.m. opening will get free reusable bags, the incredibly affable employees (60 percent of whom live within five miles of the store, Brooks pointed out) revealed that things are going so well, the store would actually open for business at 8 a.m. today.
The CVS will be open, too. Fans of Chicago deep-dish pizza will have to wait longer for Giordano's, which will be peddling pies in a corner space. And there's more to come: A notice in one of the big storefront windows reveals that Target is applying for a liquor license, so that it will be able to stock 3.2 beer.
That license will be issued right about the time that 3.2 beer is being phased out in Colorado. But otherwise, this Target has hit a bull's-eye.