Target opponents rally at retailer's open house

Sarah Bakken
Sarah Bakken
Sally McCully
Sally McCully

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Target held what it called an "open house" in Kailua Saturday. And many residents opposed to the retailers's plans to open a store in their town were angry and disappointed at the event.

"We hold open houses," said Target communications manager Sarah Bakken. "We meet with a variety of different groups and leaders so that we can share what our plans are about, so it's not just one new store coming in, but somebody that wants to be a real part of the community."

The open house at Kailua Elementary school included exhibits and several representatives from Target, who were available to answer questions.

"I'm an architect for Target, and I got to work on all the material selections and the color selections and the exterior design," said Jay Richardson.

Even with the company representatives on hand, opponents were unswayed. "We don't feel that it's appropriate to have them at all," said Sally McCully of the group No Target Kailua. "If they do need to be here, they need to drastically downsize."

Some residents were angry that the event was not a meeting. "Why wouldn't you want to hold a meeting? An actual meeting, like a public meeting, where somebody's up there and we can ask questions?" a woman demanded of a Target representative.

"Who's writing down notes? Who's taking our feedback? I mean, it's like you guys are just mouthpieces," said another woman.

"No, we're not mouthpieces at all," a Target employee responded.

Kailua resident Nancy Cassandro got out a piece of paper and a pen to write down her questions for Target. "This little mix of open house, you may not have the opportunity to talk to the right person, or you may not get your comments heard, so I chose to write them down and give them to somebody, and actually there may be some follow-through," she said.

The crowd at the open house was overwhelmingly against Target. But there were some who were not opposed to having the retailer. "It's private property, and it's not zoned residential," declared Kailua resident Joseph Bussen. "It's not zoned 'small community,' it's private property. It's zoned exactly for the use that they're planning to use it for," he said, and added that another store, Don Quijote, has already been there.

Despite the concerns, Target says it is moving ahead with plans to open in Kailua.

"We do have a lease for the property, a long-term lease for the property, and so we do plan to come into the community and just are working on finalizing how that will happen," Bakken said. Target plans to begin construction in fall 2011, with opening scheduled for summer 2012.

RELATED STORY: Touting Target in Kailua pt. 1.

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