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Target center breaking ground

Aerial of the old Kenilworth Junior High School site and Carter Field. The area is slated to house the new Target store.

Photo by Terry Hankins
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012 at 6:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:47 p.m.

The Target-anchored East Washington Place Shopping Center has existed only on paper for more than seven years. But in a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, Feb. 27, a shovel will strike the dirt and the project will start to become a physical reality.

In addition to Target, Sprouts Farmers Market, T.J. Maxx and Dick's Sporting Goods are “extremely” close to signing leases, said Ryan Nickelson, a representative of the developer, Regency Centers.

The shopping center is on schedule to open in the spring of next year, he said.

In the meantime, grass and weeds have grown high on the 34-acre former site of Kenilworth Junior High, marking the years that have passed since Regency Centers first proposed the project.

In 2004, Regency paid $22 million for the land after Kenilworth Junior High decided to relocate to northeast Petaluma. The school was quickly demolished and the developer planned to open in 2007.

Contentious city reviews, lawsuits by residents and neighborhood groups, environmental and water supply concerns and revisions of city codes delayed the shopping center time and time again.

Scrubby vegetation and the occasional stray mound of concrete and rebar have been the site's main landscaping for years.

Although the City Council approved the project in February 2010, another delay ensued as Regency made changes to accommodate larger stores, necessitating re-approval by the Council last fall.

“We're excited to break ground on this and get the shopping center built,” said Nickelson, vice president of investments for Regency Centers, at that time.

Councilmember Mike Healy, who has been an advocate of the development, joked that he might bring along his shovel from the groundbreaking of the new Kenilworth school. “It has the date painted on it — June 24, 2004!”

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