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Target Who? Mayor Lavishes Praise On Old Navy’s ‘Values’ For Coming To South Side, Tells Chicago To Shop There

Seething over Target's plans to close two South Side locations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: "I know where the Emanuel family will be going."

Lee Edwards/Block Club Chicago
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MORGAN PARK — Mayor Rahm Emanuel, still seething from Target’s decision to shut down two South Side stores, lavished praise Thursday on Old Navy, a competitor who is opening a store in Morgan Park near one of the doomed Targets.

And, without saying the name “Target,” he made an appeal for Chicagoans to let their wallets do the talking this holiday season.

“When you invest in our city, we are going to reward you by making sure that you are part of the city,” Emanuel said at the opening of the new Old Navy in the Marshfield Plaza Shopping Center, which Target plans to leave Feb. 2.

“So as the holiday season comes, you’ll make your choices of where you’ll go. I know where the Emanuel family will be going.”

Emanuel repeated a similar theme as he did Wednesday, when his office revealed he had pleaded unsuccessfully with Target executives five separate times to reconsider closing locations in Chatham and Morgan Park.

“I have a basic point, which is: If you’re going to call yourself a Chicagoland store, you need to be in all parts of Chicago. And the management of Gap [Old Navy’s parent company] heard that,” Emanuel said, standing inside the Old Navy.

“The retail market’s under tremendous stress, especially the bricks and mortars. But they realized that their values as a company were only as good as they were in all parts of Chicago, not just some parts…

“I hope all the people in the city of Chicago as they get ready for the holiday season, remembers what Gap and Old Navy did. It’s a testament to their values as a company, they are investing in all parts of Chicago.”

On Wednesday, Emanuel signed an executive order aimed at Target, which is planning to open a new Mayfair store — in a development that will get a $13 million city subsidy — while shuttering stores in Chatham and Morgan Park.

The order — which can not be applied retroactively to force Target to change course, officials said — is designed to “better guard against a lack of good-faith commitment and actions by outside parties to the city’s detriment.”

RELATED: Despite Threat Of Boycott And Loss Of TIF Funding, Target Says It’s Still Closing South Side Stores

The order requires developers of large shopping centers getting assistance from any of the city’s tax-increment financing districts to sign an affidavit declaring that it has no plans to close any stores in other parts of the city.

If the developer violates that agreement, the city “shall have the right to declare the developer in default and terminate the TIF transaction,” according to the executive order.

The order is designed to force firms getting city subsidies to tell planning officials about plans to close other stores in different parts of Chicago, Emanuel said.

“Seeing this weakness, I signed an executive order that tightens up the city’s regulatory enforcement,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel’s action comes after Target’s decision to close two South Side stores as of Feb. 2, just as construction gets underway on a new store in Mayfair, which is part of a new $58 million development at Foster Avenue and the Edens Expressway. The City Council approved $13 million in TIF funding for that development in May, which will be built at the former site of Sunstar, a dental company which moved its operations to Schaumburg.

“To say the mayor is not happy with Target’s decision would be an understatement,” said Adam Collins, Emanuel’s spokesman. “And he’s also not shy. He’s been on the phone at least five times with the CEO of the company since early last week trying to save the two stores Target is planning to close on the South Side and trying to save those jobs. He has offered the company millions in TIF assistance to keep the stores open. He’ll keep at it, but it’s a long shot.”

A Target spokeswoman said the South Side stores are among five stores nationwide picked to close because they’re not profitable.

The Chatham store, which opened in 2002, is 126,000 square feet. The Morgan Park store, open since 2008, is 128,000 square feet.