Seizing on the departure of Crate & Barrel in downtown Minneapolis, Target Corp. said Thursday it will open one of its commercial furniture stores in that space in July.

The new Target Commercial Interiors store, in the Young Quinlan Building at 9th Street and Nicollet Mall, will be the second in Minnesota and the sixth nationwide. Showrooms also are located in Wisconsin and Illinois. The company's business offices already were in the building, which sits across the street from Target's corporate headquarters and Nicollet Mall store.

Target Commercial Interiors sells desks, chairs, lighting, artwork and floor coverings and also has interior designers to help with custom designs and color selection. Most of its income comes from corporate clients, but consumers can also purchase home-office furniture at the stores.

Designers with Target Commercial Interiors have decorated the Minneapolis W hotel, overhauled the inside of the Arizona Diamondbacks' baseball stadium and spruced up office space at Cargill, Best Buy and General Mills.

The deal was a mixed bag for city leaders eager to find ways to jump start the struggling downtown market, which has about 1.7 million square feet of retail space. The Minneapolis Downtown Council recently commissioned a study to find ways to bring more traffic and retailers downtown and to keep existing retailers thriving.

The prime storefront that Crate & Barrel occupied for 18 years won't sit empty for long.

But Andrea Christenson, a vice president in retail sales and leasing with Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, said that while Target's commercial store will be a stable addition to the block, it won't be a savior.

"It would be nice to have filled the space with somebody who would bring people downtown, and that's not going to bring people downtown to shop," she said. "To really turn downtown around, you need to bring in Nordstrom or some kind of powerhouse. Now that would change downtown shopping."

Target Commercial Interiors opened its first retail store in Bloomington in 2005 to test whether the discount retailer could extend its reach into businesses.

Although the division remains a small contributor to the No. 2 discount retailer's bottom line, businesses have been receptive to Target's trendy yet value-priced merchandise, said Target spokeswoman Delia McLinden.

The division is the progeny of Dayton's Commercial Interiors, which began in 1949 and sold office furniture to more than 200 manufacturers in the Midwest. The unit was renamed in 2004 when Target sold its Marshall Field's and Mervyns stores to May Department Stores Co.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335