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November 01, 2023

Target abandons plan to open store in University City

The retail giant was slated to move into the renovated International House, now the Mason, at 37th and Chestnut streets

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Target University City Source/City of Philadelphia

Target has canceled plans to occupy a retail space at the Mason in University City, formerly the site of the International House. Above, a rendering of the proposed plan.

Target no longer plans to open a store in University City after reevaluating the project it had announced earlier this year, the company said.

The retail giant said in March that it would open a store at 3701 Chestnut St. inside an addition to the apartment building the Mason, which used to be the International House, a former student housing property. Target was set to become an anchor tenant to the revamped property, which had served for decades as a welcoming home and service center for foreign university students.

“We routinely assess our current projects and have made the decision to no longer pursue a store in this location," Target spokesperson Jim Joice said.

Target originally announced plans to open in University City when the company said it was closing its small-format store at 1128 Chestnut St. in Center City. Target had said the Center City store was underperforming, citing a lack of foot traffic in the area and limited parking. The company's stores in Rittenhouse and at Lincoln Square in South Philly are preferred locations for shoppers in the city, Target said in the spring.

Target has struggled over the last two years due to high supply chain costs and shifting consumer habits, which prompted the retailer to sell off excess inventory with steep discounts earlier this year. In October, the company closed nine stores across four states, including in major urban markets like New York City and Seattle. Target said the stores had persistent issues with theft and customer safety.

The International House was purchased in 2020 by the New York-based investment group CSC Co-Living, which sought to transform the 1960s-era brutalist structure into a modern residency with commercial space for retail and life sciences. The 14-story building received local historic designation in late 2020, so any exterior additions require approval from the city's historical commission.

The residential renovation, completed with Philly-based development partner Alterra Property Group, created more than 400 apartments at the Mason. The retail addition is nearly finished but does not have a tenant. More commercial space may be planned in the rear of the building at the former site of the Lightbox Film Center, a longtime cinema hub that has since moved to 401 S. Broad St. and merged with the University of the Arts.

CSC Co-Living and Alterra Property Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment about how plans will change now that Target is no longer part of the project.

Target still has 10 stores in Philadelphia and about 50 in the greater metropolitan area.