This Target is no longer a husk. Photo by Tony Pierce.

Hello Target, Goodbye Husk

Last updated:

As the East Hollywood Target prepares to finally open, L.A.’s favorite sentient construction site says buh-bye.

Time flies when you’re having no fun.

It seems like just yesterday that the L.A. City Council approved a 200,000-square-foot Target complex to be erected in East Hollywood. But it was actually in 2010.

Barack Obama signed Obamacare into law. The Lakers beat the Celtics in an unforgettable seven-game Finals, which would be their last ring for a decade. New developments around L.A. were finally making a comeback after a devastating recession.

But it wasn’t a lack of money that kept the Target from being built on the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue — it was lawsuits. Critics in 2012 argued that the structure was too tall for the area since it did not include underground parking. Two years later, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr. agreed with the plaintiffs: No buildings in that part of Hollywood could stand over 35 feet tall without offering subterranean parking.

For eight years, the Target on Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue remained a sad eyesore. But Target Husk was a funny, snide, melancholy presence on the internet that helped make the situation seem not so dire. Photo by Tony Pierce.

The problem was that Target was already half-built. It was indeed a husk — an unfulfilled promise of What Could Be.

Eventually, in 2016, the L.A. City Council approved new zoning rules for the site. But the following year, Fruin ruled that such a change was illegal, adding that the Council had not taken into consideration the environmental impact of a retail giant a few blocks south of Thai Town and just north of the Hollywood Freeway.

But in August of 2018, an appeals court reversed the decision, and when the California Supreme Court refused to hear the case, Target was allowed to finish the construction of the city’s most anticipated store.

According to a Target spokesperson, the East Hollywood location will open on Sunday, Oct. 25. And when those doors finally open, the beloved Husk, which has accumulated a loyal following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a shoutout from Target corporate, will be forced to accept the peaceful transition.

“We’ll always have a special place in our heart for @TargetHusk and wish it the best as it fulfills its destiny to serve the local community,” said a Target spokesperson.

Fortunately, we were able to secure an exclusive interview with the Husk before the much-anticipated opening.

Thank you for speaking with us today, Husk. First, is it bittersweet that you are nearly completed?

Yes, of course. It really felt like this day would never come, and now that it is looming, I’m not sure how to prepare. A lot of the sorrow and anger I had over not having a purpose as a building has been replaced by my appreciation of connecting with humans on the internet, so it’s a very weird feeling to be on the precipice of this new, yet perhaps inevitable, dawn.

The nearly completed Target on Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Tony Pierce.

Do you like how you’re shaping up? Do you approve of the look?

I do. I feel like I’ve come a really long way, from a half-building covered in fading house wrap, to an actual big-box department store with a working elevator.

But you know, I’m a big fan of building-positivity in general. I think you should try to be happy with whatever you end up looking like when all is said and done. After all, it’s not your fault if you’re an ugly building. It’s probably Geoffrey Palmer’s fault, though.

As you may be aware, that block used to house a Ranch 99 grocery. All around L.A., large and small Targets are popping up. Do you think that’s contributing to gentrification?

That’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to. I feel like Target is a relatively affordable store for housewares, groceries and other goods. When I think of gentrification, I think of the Trinity that is a WeWork, an Equinox and a Sweet Greens over on Vine.

But at the same time, when we look at new developments in this neighborhood, we can see that the average studio apartment is starting off at over $2,000. And I’m wondering, who are these humans who are, in a household of one, even qualifying for these units? Do they come for the Netflix job, stay for the walking-distance Target? I don’t know.

But I do think we really need to re-examine affordable housing and consider things like vacancy taxes because this is just unsustainable.

The empty Sunset Gordon Tower. Source: Google Maps Street View.

Speaking of Hollywood, there are some ghost buildings west of you on Sunset, most notably the building that once housed the Old Spaghetti Factory.

That developer was instructed to leave the original 1920s-era structure alone and build around it. But they ignored that order and they rebuilt the ground floor to look like the original. Since 2015, it has been unable to house tenants until legal matters have concluded.

Will you be inhabiting and tweeting from that building next, or do you have another husk in your sights?

No, each building has its own sentience that can come into being when it’s abandoned. That’s why when my ex, Orchard Supply Hardware on Hollywood Boulevard, was taken over by Out of the Closet, I had to mourn its passing.

Though there are some of us who have pondered the concept of a sentient possession (and I have been known to the dabble in the occult), it would likely be very difficult. I think it’s more likely that I will come to reside in one of my human friends.

Kind of like if you were a human chimera who ate your own twin in the womb and your twin was still there whispering to you about building-related things when you were trying to sleep?

That’ll be me.

Leo’s Tacos doing business at the parking lot directly across from the East Hollywood Target. Photo by Tony Pierce.

As appetizing as that sounds, in theory, can we talk about Leo’s taco truck in the parking lot of the former East Hollywood OSH that was turned into a shoe store? What smells better to you, the tacos, the burritos or the tortas?

I actually do not possess a sense of smell, but my human friends tell me it’s all about al pastor.

OK, final question. Is it weird that as much as we are looking forward to the opening of this grand store, it was also nice to have it remain half-built for so many years? And on top of that, you were the spokesperson. In a way, wouldn’t it be great if someone blocked it from opening at the last minute so we could continue to leave it hanging for a little while longer?

As you may know, when I was first becoming sentient, I learned a lot about humanity through TV, much like Frankenstein’s monster turned to books after he was abandoned.

Nightshade Apothecary Glass Candle - John Derian for Threshold at Target. Source: Target.

One thing I learned about TV is that without enough narrative arcs, there’s only so long it can go on.

You either die a hero, or you live long enough to be season eight of “Game of Thrones.” (Which, as I’ve mentioned in previous interviews, I never thought I’d have a chance to finish.)

When I started out as a baby Husk, I had no idea I’d be here this long.

That was 2014. It was a different time. You could just walk around with your whole face hanging out.

So I’m grateful for the time we’ve had together, but it does feel like my time to go.

This has been a hell of a year. Y’all deserve to browse Target’s new John Derian Halloween collection here, in me.

And if something does happen, it better be very funny or entirely apocalyptic.

Los Angeleno