Target is getting sporty in San Francisco.

That's where the company will open its first permanent store without the Target brand name -- an exercise clothing outlet called C9 Active Apparel.

The C9 store will sell the same sportswear line that Target stores have sold for years. It will be paired with another new Target concept, CityTarget, which is essentially a smaller Target store designed to penetrate high-density urban centers where building space is often at a premium.

The C9 and CityTarget stores will occupy the Metreon building at 4th and Mission streets in downtown San Francisco. Both will open Oct. 14.

While opening a single store in a trendy city such as San Francisco would appear to be classic test-marketing of a new retail concept, Target insists that's not the case. "I would not characterize this as a test," said spokesman Joshua Thomas. "We have no immediate plans to expand C9 Active Apparel beyond the San Francisco location."

The C9 store was located in San Francisco because of an opportunity to rent space in the same building where the CityTarget store would be located, said Thomas, adding that the store is a good match for the "active consumer segment" in the city. He offered no other strategic explanation for the C9 concept.

The "C9 By Champion" products, which include men's and women's exercise clothing and accessories such as yoga mats and water bottles, are produced exclusively for Target by HanesBrands. They have been sold in Target stores and the company's website since 2004.

The 3,000-square-foot C9 store will be much smaller than the 100,000-square-foot CityTarget that will occupy the entire second floor of Metreon building. The C9 store will not be physically connected to the CityTarget.

Target plans to open several other urban-oriented CityTarget stores across the country.

The first CityTargets will open in Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago in July. In addition to the San Francisco store, a second Los Angeles store will open in October. Others are planned for 2013.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553