Kohl’s coming to area

A major regional shopping center that’s supposed to feature one
of a growing nationwide department store chain’s first Northern
California locations is a big step closer to fruition.
A major regional shopping center in east Gilroy – a center that is supposed to feature one of a growing nationwide department store chain’s first Northern California locations – is a big step closer to fruition.

City officials approved zoning permits, site layouts and architectural designs for Regency Centers Inc.’s new Crossing Shopping Center, helping to pave the way for a number of big-name retailers to fill the roughly 450,000-square-foot regional facility.

A 123,000-square-foot Target store is expected to serve as the largest “anchor” store for the new center, planned to occupy a spot at the southeast corner of the junction of U.S. 101 and Highway 152.

Of particular interest is the second-largest retailer expected in the center – an 88,000-square-foot Kohl’s department store – that will be a new and significant face to the area and the Northern California scene.

Gilroy Mayor Tom Springer said the growing nationwide chain that’s expanding into California has apparently chosen south Santa Clara County for its first Bay Area location – a choice, he said, that not only provides the area with a new shopping experience, but also reasserts its position as a center of commerce.

“They are a department store that’s expanding and will be significantly new to the area,” Springer said. “It will be a new shopping experience for folks.

“And in choosing (the area), they have realized again that we have a central place to put it so they could attract people from a wide range of areas . . .”

At least eight other chain retailers are also expected to have slots in the center, many of them already familiar names to shoppers that currently flock to San Jose or Salinas. Stores that have produced letters of intent to locate at Regency range from the popular Barnes and Noble bookstore to housewares seller Bed Bath and Beyond.

Last month, Kohl’s announced plans to open 28 stores in Southern California by spring, a move that would create a coast-to-coast presence for the first time in the company’s history. The company’s 450-plus existing stores lie across 33 states, many of them east of the Rocky Mountains.

“They’re providing a whole new shopping experience for their customers – people that go to department stores, rather than specialty stores,” Springer said.

And the experience may be even more unique in other ways. The fast-growing, Wisconsin-headquartered chain was recently featured in Newsweek magazine as a hot retail standout in what was called an otherwise gloomy holiday shopping season, thanks in part to a simple and family-friendly layout of clothing and houseware items that are offered at discount prices. Brands of apparel, footwear and home goods range from Dockers, Lee, Levi’s and Haggar to Pfaltzgraff, Krups and KitchenAid.

Kohl’s officials also said they have gained other accolades from consumers besides their dollars: They said the chain was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among the nation’s largest moderately-priced department stores, according to a J.D. Power and Associates’ report.

The study, released last month, gave Kohl’s top marks in its segment for value, store environment, merchandise, reputation and sales and promotions, according to a Kohl’s statement.

“Our stores are designed to ensure a satisfying, hassle-free shopping experience for our customers,” reads a company Web site.

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