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Target Might Fulfill Vornado’s Downtown Crossing Dreams

The contentious Downtown Crossing project in Boston might finally be gaining traction as discount retailer Target mulls opening a store near the site.

On Tuesday Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) Director Peter Meade confirmed the Minneapolis, Minn.-based discounter has been looking at several sites in the city, including in the former Filene’s Basement building near One Franklin Street.

The 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use project has been lingering unattended since 2008, when developer Vornado Realty Trust stopped construction, citing financing troubles.

Target would be the perfect candidate to put some life back into the property, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidwoitz & Associates Inc, a New York City-based retail consulting and investment banking firm. It’s popular with people from multiple income brackets and tends to draw crowds of shoppers.

“To move this project forward you need a destination that’s going to drive a huge amount of footsteps,” Davidowitz says. “No one can compare to Target in terms of being a destination and generating traffic.”

Earlier this year, Target Corp., which normally operates megastores averaging 135,000 square feet, launched a small format store called CityTarget as a means of breaking into urban markets. The retailer already announced one such store in a historic landmark building on South State Street in Chicago. That store will total approximately 54,000 square feet.

Boston appears to be its next mark, according to comments made by Meade during a breakfast meeting presented by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

The vacant Filene’s property in Boston contains approximately 250,000 square feet, including its basement, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Given that the location is only two miles away from Target’s store at South Bay Shopping Center, however, the deal would have to be a bargain for the retailer, notes Robert Sheehan, vice president of research with KeyPoint Partners, a Burlington, Mass.-based commercial real estate services firm.

The Boston Herald cites a potential price tag of $30 million for the building.

A Target spokesperson confirmed that the retailer is exploring options for a new store in Boston, but would not reveal any details about the search. Vornado declined to comment.

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