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Exclusive: Target buys land for Middletown store

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The retail giant Target will open its fifth Delaware store in a new shopping center in Middletown in 2024. | PHOTO COURTESY OF TARGET

MIDDLETOWN – The long-rumored Target store is moving to fruition after the company purchased the land off Middletown-Warwick Road this month, according to county land records.

The Minnesota-based retail giant bought its nearly 13-acre parcel for about $4.1 million on Jan. 5 from local developers Lee and Louis Ramunno.

A request to Target for comment on the acquisition was not immediately returned Friday. It still does not list Middletown on its list of upcoming store locations.

Part of a planned development known as Northside Shopping Center just north of the intersection with Route 299, the 147,000-square-foot Target will be a major anchor for the plaza that will host about eight other stores.

Louis Ramunno told Delaware Business Times that site work on the Target would start within a few weeks, and the estimated opening of the new store would be the middle of 2024.

“It took a lot of work, but Target is obviously a world-class company and our intent is to build about 150,000 square feet of additional ancillary retail around them with national-caliber tenants,” he added.

The deal with the major brand took more than a year to close after they made contact and underwent a design process, Ramunno said, but the retailer expressed an enthusiasm for getting into the Middletown market and along a thoroughfare that sees more than 1 million vehicle trips a year.

Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner Jr. told DBT said that landing Target was a major coup for the southern New Castle County town that has exploded with commercial, industrial and residential development in the last decade.

“We have Walmart and Home Goods all in one shopping center and to have Target on the other side of 299 is going to be a tremendous plus. We’re very excited about that,” he said.

The Ramunno brothers will build eight additional pad sites around the Target in Northside Shopping Center. | PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO COMMERCIAL

According to marketing materials by Metro Commercial, the Target would be located in the center of the new shopping center with eight standalone pad sites ranging from 62,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet across the remaining 28 acres. A Dash-In gas station is already listed as confirmed near the frontage of Middletown-Warwick Road, and the new center will abut an existing Popeyes and liquor store.

Branner said that a PetSmart store may be in the works for the plaza as well, but no confirmation has been made yet.

Ramunno said that leasing interest has “picked up significantly” since word of the Target began to spread a few months ago. He expects to announce some additional tenants in the next few months.

The development of standalone pad sites rather than strip malls is important, however, as they are more sought-after by many major corporate brands for their ability to be personalized. Ramunno said that, unlike the Target, his development firm would construct the additional sites to own and lease, once tenants are identified.

Branner noted that standalone sites are more likely to become sit-down restaurants than strip mall locations that are typically smaller footprints that often lend themselves to take-out-focused locations.

The Middletown location will be the fifth in Delaware for the retailing giant, joining those in the Christiana Mall off Interstate 95, Brandywine Town Center off U.S. Route 202, Prices Corner Shopping Center off Kirkwood Highway and one off U.S. Route 13 in Dover.

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