Currently undergoing an extensive remodel, 3333 Arlington Avenue is one of three Riverside locations for retail giant Target.
City permits indicate the building was originally built in 1970 for Gemco membership department stores. The value for the original 99,200 square-foot building was listed as $950,000. The architect was listed as Maxwell & Starkman Associates and the contractor as Ernest W. Hahn (who also built Riverside’s original Tyler Mall).
A 4,365 square-foot gas station valued at $40,000 was also permitted in 1970. Located at the western edge of the property next to McMahon Street, the address for the station was listed as 3335/7 Arlington Avenue. A city permit was issued in 1995 to demolish the station. (The site is now used for parking.)
City permits indicate the adjacent retail strip — Arlington Square — on the eastern edge of the Arlington Avenue property was built in 1977.
Established in Anaheim in 1959, Gemco was acquired by Lucky (grocery) Stores in 1962, which expanded the chain throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and into Houston, Texas. The company also opened stores under the Memco banner in the Washington D.C. and Chicago areas.
In October 1986, Lucky Stores closed its Gemco division, selling 54 of the chain’s 80 stores to Dayton-Hudson (Target Corp.). In 1987, Dayton-Hudson used the acquisition of the former Gemco stores — including the Arlington Avenue building — to expand its Target chain.
The Arlington Avenue Target was the second Riverside location for the Minneapolis-based chain. The first, located at 3520 Tyler Street, opened in 1983 (along with its then sister store, Mervyn’s) in the former Treasury discount store building. The third location — a newly constructed building located at 2755 Canyon Springs Parkway — opened in 2003.
In 1979, a second Gemco location in Riverside opened at 10471 Magnolia Avenue near Tyler Street. A smaller attached building housed various other businesses, including a Nautilus Health Club and an Army-Navy-Air Force recruitment office.
After Gemco closed the Magnolia Avenue store, the main building was divided up for use as a Lucky’s grocery store and Kids R Us clothing store. More recently, it had remained mostly vacant. A demolition permit was issued in 2008 and, excepting the parking lot and a small strip center at the western edge, the lot remains empty (one | two).
Nov. 2011 Update: Remodeling work has finished at the Arlington Avenue store. Besides the addition of a “Fresh Grocery” section, the store has been completely updated and reconfigured. And judging by these swanky ceiling lamps, someone at Target obviously understands the importance of design aesthetics. Also new is a Starbucks Coffee cafe area. View an updated photo gallery.
- Facebook – Gemco-Memco Stores
- Flickr – Gemco and Memco
- YouTube – Gemco TV commercials: 1979 | 1982 | 1984 | @1985 | 1987
- Los Angeles Times – Lucky to Close Gemco, Sell Most Stores to Dayton Hudson (Oct. 1986) | Thousands Rush to 80 Stores: Bargain Hunters Jam Gemcos for Last Sale (Oct. 1986)
- RaincrossSquare.com – ‘Under the squiggly roof’ of The Treasury (May 2010) | From Treasury to Mervyn’s to Kohl’s (Oct. 2010)
Photos courtesy of: *Daniel Balboa / Riverside Fire Department, **Google Maps, ***Bing Maps, ****Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
Sources: City of Riverside, Los Angeles Times, WikiPedia, Groceteria.com