“A little strange.”
That’s how Denver-area native Brian Zielenski described seeing a Target on the city’s 16th Street Mall when he walked by the not-quite-open-to-the-public store Tuesday afternoon. When he thinks of 16th Street, he thinks of restaurants and shops that sell T-shirts with pictures of the mountains on them to tourists.
“I guess I just don’t picture a big-box store like a Target or a Best Buy or a Walmart — that kind of large-format store — being on the mall,” he said.
What was disorienting for Zielenski was celebrated by some top city leaders Tuesday afternoon. Mayor Michael Hancock and City Councilman Albus Brooks attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and sneak peek event at the store located at 1600 California St. It opens to the public at 8 Sunday morning.
Brooks, who represents the Central Business District on City Council, celebrated that a reported 60 percent of the store’s workforce so far lives within 5 miles of it and represents a diverse cross section of Denver. The councilman was part of the council that approved a $4 million incentive package, delivered to landlord Gart Properties, to bring the store to the neighborhood. When fully staffed, the store expects to have around 80 employees.
The roughly 30,000-square-foot store, located on the second and third floors of its building and served by escalators and elevators, has a heavy emphasis on groceries on its first level. Located on the right-hand side when coming up the escalator, roughly a third of the space is occupied by freezer and cooler cases, snack foods, paper goods, cleaning supplies and a produce section.
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The grocery aisles are likely to draw some heavy traffic from people who dwell on the eastern end of the Central Business District. The Central Platte Valley neighborhood to the west added a Whole Foods in November to go along with its King Soopers, but for people who live closer to Broadway, the nearest grocery options remain the Safeway at 757 E 20th Ave. or the King Soopers at 1331 Speer Blvd.
Whitney Andreasen, a south Denver resident who was among the lucky few invited to Tuesday’s preview because her mom works for Gart Properties, made the visit count. She picked up a Bluetooth speaker for her patio.
“I love it,” Andreasen said of the store — particularly its airy layout with the main floor opening up to a wrap-around-balcony-style second level. “They packed a lot in here. I can’t believe all the food.”
The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.