SONORA -- A Kohl's department store could fill the space vacated by Gottschalks in the Junction Shopping Center last year.
Kohl's has applied for a permit needed for improvements to the building, said Tuolumne County Administrator Craig Pedro.
The Wisconsin-based company declined to comment in detail.
"At this time, we've not announced any plans to open a new store in the Sonora community," spokeswoman Elizabeth DeLuca said in an e-mail. "Kohl's has an ongoing real estate assessment process. At any given time, Kohl's is reviewing sites in communities nationwide."
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The management at the shopping center referred inquiries to Pedro.
"To the extent that they do open a store here in the county, of course we would welcome that for the jobs it would bring and for the alternative shopping opportunities," he said.
The building, one of the anchors in the Mono Way center, was occupied by Gottschalks starting in 1997 and by Kmart before that.
Gottschalks vacated the store after filing for bankruptcy. The Fresno-based chain also closed two stores in Modesto and others in Merced, Tracy and Stockton.
Kohl's, a mid-priced retailer with 1,058 stores in 49 states, has become a major player in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since arriving in 2004.
It opened that year in Modesto, Turlock and Stockton. Manteca and Riverbank stores followed in 2006.
Last year, Kohl's filled the space in Merced left by the Mervyn's bankruptcy filing.
The former Gottschalks store in Vintage Faire Mall has been taken over by Forever 21, a clothing chain. The store in Century Center in east Modesto remains vacant.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.