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GOSHEN, NY-Target Corp., which had considered building a 1.2 million-sf distribution facility in Orange County, has decided not to pursue development of the project here at the moment, according to Maureen Halahan, president and chief executive officer of The Orange County Partnership.

Halahan says that officials with Target have indicated that the retailer will not exercise options to acquire properties in Montgomery or Chester. Both sites had been studied for the retailer’s Northeast regional distribution facility.

Target officials refused comment on reports that it is no longer considering Orange County for its distribution facility, nor would they discuss the current status of its search for a site for the major distribution facility that would service 70 store locations in the New York metro area and New England.

On Oct. 16, Target issued a statement that announced it would no longer pursue approvals for the site in Montgomery. Last week, Target informed those involved with the Chester site that it would not pursue development at that property either, Halahan says.

In its statement regarding the Montgomery property, Mitch Stover, senior vice president of distribution for Target Corp. stated, “We are confident that we would have successfully acquired the proper approvals for the project. However, as our planning progressed, our concerns about a labor pool limited in size, and the inability for future growth needs, become crucial. Combined with the possibility of entitlement delays, the uncertainty of necessary infrastructure improvements and the tight deadline needed for this project, it was in the best interest of Target to pass on the site.”

The company, which last week also passed on a parcel in Chester, added, that it “will continue to explore its options in the New York and New England area” for the distribution center site.

Halahan notes that the Orange County Partnership, the county’s chief economic development agency, had worked closely with Target officials for some time on their requirement. She says that the firm had preferred the 280-acre Montgomery site for its distribution facility that could have been expanded to as much as 1.6 million sf.

While disappointed about the firm’s decision, she believes that Orange County did not lose the requirement to a competitor because as far as she knows “there is no activity on it.” She believes the firm may be reassessing the scope of the project and is hopeful that the Minneapolis-based discount retailer might reconsider Orange County for its distribution requirement sometime in the future. “I have no reason to believe we dead lost it to another state,” she notes. She adds that Orange County’s chief competitor for the distribution facility was the State of Connecticut.

While no firm details on the planned Target distribution facility were released, Wal-Mart, which has plans to build a 1.2 million-sf distribution facility in the town of Wallkill in Orange County, has projected that development will cost approximately $48.5 million to complete. The Wal-Mart project will employ 600 construction workers once ground is broken on the development next summer, and will employ 700 workers once it opens in the fall of 2004.

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