Target Corp. is in discussions with Simon Property Group about possibly opening a second Santa Rosa store at Coddingtown Mall, a mall official said Tuesday.

The Minneapolis-based big-box giant, which has run a store on Santa Rosa Avenue since 1995, is one of several retailers interested in locating a store in the former Gottschalks location, said mall manager Laura Kozup.

"They are one of the people we are talking to," Kozup said. "Actually, we have a lot of interest in the Gottschalks building right now."

It could not be determined Tuesday whether the discussions are preliminary or serious. Kozup and other Simon officials declined to discuss details of the discussions, including whether it would involve renovating the existing building or building a new one.

But word of the talks has spread like wildfire around the mall, encouraging merchants that have long fretted over the delay in the opening of Whole Foods and the loss of the foot traffic from Gottschalks, which closed in July.

"If they could get Target in here and the Whole Foods open, then I think this mall could come back to life," said Richard Thomas, a clerk at Shutterbug camera store.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility, said Tom Laugero, a retail broker with Keegan & Coppin.

Target has previously expressed interest in the Kmart site at the north end of the city. That deal didn't work out, but it shows the company sees the benefit of having a second store in Santa Rosa, he said. "It was definitely on their radar."

A Target at Coddingtown could attract shoppers from the city's west side and would be easily accessible from cities to the north like Windsor and Healdsburg, Laugero said. It's also a great time for retailers to be shopping for space, he added.

"It probably makes economic sense for them because they can probably cut a pretty sweet deal," Laugero said.

Target did not return a call for comment.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or