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Original Article: CBS Chicago

by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) — A shuttered Target store that has stood vacant for eight months will be replaced by a new Blue Cross Blue Shield community health center and office building by the end of next year.

The City Council Finance Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to the redevelopment agreement for the Marshfield Plaza shopping center at 119th and Marshfield in Morgan Park, allowing Blue Cross to take over the building once occupied by Target.

The new facility will feature office space for Blue Cross employees and a community health center that will offer nutrition classes, yoga, and other programs.

The Marshfield Plaza project received taxpayer assistance when it was built as part of a redevelopment agreement in 2009, so Blue Cross needed city authorization to take over the old Target property, even though the insurance company is not receiving any tax incentives.

Target stirred an uproar last year when it announced it was closing the Morgan Park store, and another South Side store in Chatham, at the same time it was opening two new stores on the North Side – including one that received $13 million in tax subsidies. The two South Side stores closed in February.

The company defended the decision to shutter the Morgan Park and Chatham stores, saying they were underperforming.

Ald. Carrie Austin (37th) who was among those who criticized Target for closing stores in mostly black communities while opening them in largely white neighborhoods, said she was thrilled to have Blue Cross bringing in about 500 jobs to the old Target site in Morgan Park.

“We were all devastated when Target did leave us,” she said.

Austin said the new Blue Cross facility could provide an incentive for more new restaurants and stores to open nearby.

The Blue Cross facility is expected to be completed by the end of next year.