The University of Texas, Austin campus will soon get its first big-box neighbor, albeit in a smaller format. Target announced that it has plans to open a store adjacent to the UT campus in July 2017, within the former Dobie Mall space.
Dobie Twenty21, an apartment and retail development at West 21st and Guadalupe streets, used to house an arthouse cinema and a few stores and restaurants. New owners Fowler Property Acquisitions purchased Dobie in 2015, and are planning to bring new retailers into the renovated space. Fowler is also renovating the apartments.
Target’s new store on the Drag – another name for the stretch of Guadalupe that runs through the UT campus – is part of a new strategy for the retailer. The store will span 22,000 square feet, much smaller than its typical 145,000-square foot big box stores. This location will sell items geared toward the local population: dorm and apartment goods, groceries, health and beauty items, technology products and accessories, and clothing.
“Growth on college campuses and in urban markets is a priority for Target,” Target senior vice president Mark Schindele said in a written statement. “We’re able to serve more guests by adding flexible-format stores near top universities across the country, including the quick-trip shopping experience we’ll bring to the University of Texas campus. We’re thrilled to open our first flexible-format store in Austin and to join the Longhorn community.”
For the already-dense UT campus, the presence of a retailer such as Target spells good news for students and other Austinites who want to navigate the area without a car. A spate of dense housing development has transformed the area around UT’s campus in the past decade, bringing much-needed student housing close to campus, where students can access shuttles, ride bikes, or walk. But if residents there need say, a pillow or some groceries, chances are they will still need to get in a car and navigate through Austin traffic to a strip mall. Target’s presence on campus could eliminate many of those trips.