Demolition of the former Gottschalks department store building at Coddingtown mall began Thursday morning to make way for a Target expected to open in 2014.
Crews using heavy machinery ripped through the exterior walls of the two-story Santa Rosa building, collapsing the southwest corner and sending the black letters of the Gottschalks sign crashing into a pile of twisted rubble.
"It's exciting to see it come down," said Rick Freeman, president of Codding Construction, which built the structure that was previously home to the Liberty House and Macy's department stores. "It's served its purpose."
The project is the latest step in the mall's efforts to reinvigorate the 1960s-era shopping center. The mall's owners have spent millions in recent years on upgrades that have attracted new tenants, including a Whole Foods and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse.
"For us as a company, this is a monumental milestone for the future redevelopment and revitalization of Coddingtown," said Kirstie Moore, property and development manager of Codding Enterprises, which built the mall and now owns 50 percent of it with partner Simon Property Group.
In addition to the department store, portions of the adjoining mall also will be demolished to allow Target to nestle into the mall's core by about 80 feet.
The work is being handled by NCM Demolition and Remediation of Dublin. Crews began stripping the interior of the building and prepping it for demolition about two weeks ago.
About 95 percent of the materials in the steel and concrete-block building will be recycled as part of the project, Freeman said.
After the building is down and debris hauled off, Codding Construction will begin prepping the site with new utilities and parking lot improvements before turning it over to Target for construction of a 143,000-square-foot single-story big-box store.
The new store is expected to generate from 200 to 250 new jobs and bring lots of new shoppers to the mall.