Target project OKed for Buffalo, N.Y.

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Jul. 2--Target Corp.'s $10 million expansion and renovation of its North Buffalo store won approval of the Buffalo Planning Board Tuesday.

The Minneapolis-based discount retailer can now advance its plans for a complete overhaul of its 12-year-old store in Delaware Consumer Square at 2626 Delaware Ave.

Target plans to demolish an adjacent section of the plaza, including space that is currently home to Weight Watchers, to put an 18,300- square-foot addition onto the existing 116,500-square-foot store.

The project also includes a full makeover of the store's interior, a new facade, and a an overhaul of the store's parking lot to add pedestrian walkways, traffic islands and extensive landscaping.

"It will be like a new store when we're done. We'll end up with a much improved shopping experience," said Peter Firestone, Target's regional facilities manager.

Planning board member Cynthia Schwartz gave high marks to Target's efforts to address vehicular and pedestrian traffic issues at the popular shopping venue.

"I'm thrilled about the parking lot changes. I think this is a terrific enhancement to the site," Schwartz said.

The remodel and expansion will be similar to updates the nation's No. 2 discount chain is doing at older stores around the nation.

One of the biggest changes will be seen in the store's foods department, according to Firestone.

"You'll see a lot more food. Right now we have maybe 20 coolers in the store, that will grow to about 100 with the expansion," he said.

Pending final approval by the Buffalo Common Council and issuance of demolition and building permits, the project will get under way in the first quarter of 2009 with an expected October 2009 completion.

Target also needs to finalize a deal with Developers Diversified Realty Corp. of Ohio to expand its plaza footprint from 7.5 acres to 9.2 acres.

The Target store debuted as an anchor tenant in Delaware Consumer Square, the city's first retail "power center" in October 1996. The $18.3 million, 402,000-square-foot plaza was developed by Benderson Development Corp.

The Target redo comes as the discounter is facing fresh competition for city shoppers. A new Kohl's store is going up a few blocks at Delaware Commons, on a former Ames store site. That store will open this November.

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