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JC Penney's big plans for Coddingtown

  • Stacy Smith helps John Velasquez with a purchase at JCPenney, at Coddingtown Mall, on Thursday, March 31, 2011. The store is undergoing a $4 million renovation that is scheduled to be completed in August.

The aging JC Penney department store in Coddingtown Mall is getting a face lift.

The Texas-based company is spending $4 million to renovate its three-level store in Santa Rosa, adding upscale brands and a Sephora cosmetic store for Sonoma County's fashion conscious.

"We're trying to attract the younger customer," said Mike Gobble, manager of the Santa Rosa store. "The store is being totally modernized."

JC Penney Renovation In Coddingtown Mall

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The 8-month construction project started in January and will add all new fitting rooms, bathrooms, escalators, a new floor layout and several high-end brands such as MNG by Mango and Aldo hand bags and shoes. The store will remain open during construction.

The store will have to overcome the stigma that many still attach to Coddingtown Mall and its JC Penney store.

"Whenever I go there it's a really dead mall," said Lelani Talafili, 19, who was shopping at the Forever 21 store in Santa Rosa Plaza on Thursday. "Santa Rosa Plaza has more energy, so it attracts more young people."

Gobble is aware that many young women share that perception of his store and Coddingtown Mall. JC Penney is taking steps with the remodel to change their minds, he said.

Its Santa Rosa location will soon include the hip cosmetic store Sephora, which will occupy a 2,000-square-foot hub in the middle of JC Penney's first floor. It will be Sonoma County's first Sephora store when it opens — likely in August.

"People are already coming to apply for jobs at the Sephora store," Gobble said. "And we're not even hiring until June."

Young women hovered around the cosmetic counters at Macy's department store in the Santa Rosa Plaza on Thursday. What did they think of having a Sephora store in Santa Rosa?


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