Discount warehouse chain Smart & Final is close to opening a store in the Santa Rosa building once occupied by Circuit City, the company confirmed Friday.

"We're in the final steps of competing a deal," said Randall Oliver, spokesman for the firm, which operates 235 warehouse-style stores in the Western U.S.

The company hopes to open a Smart & Final Extra! in the 29,000-square-foot space on Santa Rosa Avenue vacated by Circuit City in 2009. The store would be larger than its typical warehouse stores, would carry more groceries, and would employ about 70 people, Oliver said.

The company operates about 235 stores in six Western states in three formats: Smart & Final, Smart & Final Extra!, and Cash & Carry. It would be the Commerce-based firm's second location in Santa Rosa. The company has operated a Cash & Carry on Barham Avenue, between Santa Rosa Avenue and Petaluma Hill Road, for about 10 years. That store focuses on bulk food and cleaning supplies aimed at restaurants, caterers, businesses and households.

Unlike rival warehouse chain Costco, Smart and Final's stores require no annual membership fee.

Oliver said the company is "very close to having a deal," but that there are some "issues that need to be worked out with the city." He declined to elaborate.

It is unclear if the Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County's lawsuit against the city for the zoning changes allowing large grocery stores without a use permit could impact the project.

The owner of Santa Rosa Town Center has applied to install two signs – one facing north and another facing east to Santa Rosa Avenue, city planner Erin Morris said.

"We are very anxious to move things forward," Oliver said.

The center has struggled with the loss of Circuit City in 2009 and Borders bookstore last year.

Andre Cazar, general manager, or Aaron Brothers frame shop between both of those businesses, said he was thrilled be getting a new neighbor.

"This side of the parking lot, with Borders being gone, is tremendously quiet," Cazar said. "At this point, anything would be great."

(You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or OnTwitter @citybeater)