Target Corporation’s west campus along Interstate 394 is the latest casualty of the retailer’s downsizing.
On Thursday morning, executives told the site’s 1,300 employees that the nine-story tower near the western edge of Minneapolis will go up for sale this fall. Those workers, who are mostly in financial and retail services such as Redcard and customer relations, will move next summer to the company’s recently expanded Brooklyn Park campus, about 15 miles away.
Target has laid off about a fifth of its corporate staff in the Twin Cities earlier this year, leaving it with a lot of empty office space. “The great news is that they’re not moving [those operations] to Texas — or to India,” said Jeff Lunde, the mayor of Brooklyn Park. “So we’re happy to be part of this and to keep those people here.”
Target had already begun moving employees, about a hundred or so at a time, from its downtown headquarters along Nicollet Mall to Brooklyn Park, Lunde said.
The Minneapolis-based retailer opened its northern campus in 2001. Last year, it completed two towers at the site, doubling its office space there to 1.2 million square feet.
Target officials have said they would move about 3,000 employees from downtown to Brooklyn Park once the expansion was ready. But currently, only about 2,000 employees work there, along with a number of contractors.
Target’s Brooklyn Park offices could host about 6,000 workers and house a lot of Target’s technology operations as well as functions such as human resources, finance, asset protection and sourcing.
With those changes, many had questioned the future of the west campus, as a Target executive acknowledged Thursday in an e-mail to employees obtained by the Star Tribune.
“Many of you have asked about this over the years, and there has been a lot of speculation lately,” Scott Kennedy, president of Target’s financial and retail services, wrote in the note.
The move will mean longer commutes for some, and Kennedy acknowledged that the change will be stressful. But he said the department now has almost a year to prepare, which will allow time to customize the new offices in Brooklyn Park. He added that this is an “energizing opportunity” to put the department into one location.
The announcement of the upcoming sale and move effectively quashed recent talk that Target was considering selling its Brooklyn Park campus.
“We decided that doing a consolidation between the downtown and north campus would align the teams in the best way,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said Thursday. “We are very committed to our headquarters locations in Brooklyn Park and downtown.”
She added that Target recently extended its lease at the City Center in downtown Minneapolis for an undisclosed period of time. Target has about 3 million square feet of office space along Nicollet Mall in three buildings it owns and two that it leases.
Company insiders and civic leaders have been wondering how the retailer’s footprint in the Twin Cities might change, since the company has laid off 2,500 corporate workers so far this year. More cuts could come as chief executive Brian Cornell looks for savings to fuel $1 billion in investments in technology and supply chain. The workforce reductions are also part of a goal to remove layers of bureaucracy that had slowed down the retailer.
Target now has about 11,000 headquarters employees in the Twin Cities.
In recent months, the company has also closed 133 stores in Canada, announced a deal to sell its pharmacies to CVS and sold off one of its subdivisions — Target Commercial Interiors.
The west campus is located at 3701 Wayzata Blvd., near the Minneapolis border with Golden Valley and St. Louis Park. It opened in 1954 as a complex for Prudential Insurance and is still referred to by some longtime residents as the “Prudential site.” Target bought it in 1994 for $9 million, according to Hennepin County property records.
Its current market value is $15.2 million, with a nine-story, 400,000-square-foot building assessed at $2.7 million and the 24 acres of land surrounding it at $12.5 million.
It will be one of the largest properties to come up for sale in the Twin Cities since Normandale Lakes office park in Bloomington, the largest commercial property in the state, was on the market last year. That complex, while on a similarly sized parcel of land, has 1.7 million square feet of office space and sold for $369 million.
In Brooklyn Park, where Target owns 350 acres, the company still has a lot of undeveloped land. As part of a long-range plan, it has planned to have another corporation or two occupy some of that space.
In the meantime, Target is still Brooklyn Park’s largest employer and a key player in what city leaders have hoped to turn into a “third downtown” for the region. That hope has been buoyed by the fact that Target’s north campus is slated to be the last stop of a planned extension of the light-rail Blue Line.
“It’s not like the line is going to be done next week — it’s still out a few years,” said Mayor Lunde. “But we think it’s of strategic importance.”
When it’s done, he added, Target employees will be able to get directly from the downtown headquarters to the Brooklyn Park campus.
Staff writer Kristen Leigh Painter contributed to this report.