Target will close its store in Mondawmin Mall in February, one of a dozen locations around the country slated to shut their doors, the retailer said Tuesday.
The mass discounter, a key anchor in the mall’s revitalization in 2008, will close Feb. 3. It employs about 134 people.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman. “We have a rigorous process in place to evaluate the performance of every store on an annual basis, closing or relocating underperforming locations as needed.”
She said the company typically decides to close a store after several years of decreased profitability. All eligible store employees of the will be offered jobs at other area Targets, she said.
Target owns the store building and will be putting it up for sale, Welker said.
The Mondawmin Target was the retailer’s first location in the city nearly a decade ago, part of a larger, $70 million effort to redevelop the mall with new anchors such as Shoppers Food & Pharmacy and to help spread commercial development beyond the Inner Harbor. Baltimore officials offered $15 million in tax incentives to help with mall redevelopment.
“It’s devastating. It’s absolutely devastating,” said Nick J. Mosby, a state delegate and former Baltimore City Council member whose district includes the Mondawmin community. “It’s really a huge anchor to the mall and to the surrounding community. Many people shop at that particular Target.”
Target, which Welker said closes a handful of stores each year, also is closing locations in Michigan, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Illinois and Texas. The retailer operates 20 stores in the Baltimore area, including one other store in Baltimore city, in the Canton Crossing shopping center in Canton. The company has opened 32 stores this year.
Mayor Catherine Pugh said she spoke with Target officials Tuesday after learning of the retailer’s decision, which she said “comes as a shock to myself and anyone else.”
She said she was told it was a corporate decision based on declining sales and the company’s expectations, the same reasons for the handful of closings the retailer plans around the country. Target is willing to work with the city to come up with other uses, she said.
“One of the things we have to be looking at is how do we create a better mix of venues in retail establishments,” she said. “We do more than eat and buy clothes. … There should be a bowling alley or movie theater.”
Target’s decision comes at a time when dozens of retailers are closing hundreds of stores, including mall stores and department stores such as Sears, Kmart, JCPenney and Macy’s.
The neighborhood around the mall in West Baltimore became the site of clashes between police and protesters in April 2015 after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries suffered while in police custody, sparked riots and looting in the city.
Mondawmin Mall owner GGP, a real estate investment trust formerly known as General Growth Properties, said it was disappointed to hear of Target’s decision.
“It’s preliminary for us to speculate on what impact, if any, the pending store closure will have on Mondawmin Mall,” said Kevin Berry, a GGP senior vice president and spokesman, in a statement. “Mondawmin Mall recently welcomed a number of new tenants and will continue to offer the community a thoughtful variety of shops to meet their daily needs.”