The long-vacant former Gottschalks space in Coddingtown Mall could become home to a new Target store, mall employees said on Friday.

Managers are again in talks with Target to open a new store in the empty building that anchors the south side of the mall, which has been vacant since Gottschalks filed bankruptcy and closed in 2009.

"We've been in discussions with a few different tenants," said Lois Codding, vice president of leasing for Codding Enterprises. "Target has expressed interest, but nothing is concrete about that yet. ... From my understanding, Windsor is talking with Target as well."

A different mall employee said survey crews from Target would be checking out the property next week, and would begin construction next year. In the interim, a Halloween costume store will open in the space.

Representatives from Simon Property Group, which co-owns the mall with Codding Enterprises, did not confirm or deny the talks with Target.

"Right now we're just not at liberty to say anything," Kim Hall, area marketing director for Simon, said in a phone message.

A spokeswoman from Minneapolis-based Target Corp. also said she did not have any information about a new store in Santa Rosa.

"I can't say yes or no either way, I just really don't have any details about what's happening in 2012," said Sarah Van Nevel, Target spokeswoman.

Van Nevel said Target plans to open new California locations this October in Dublin and San Clemente.

Target currently has stores in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park and another planned in Petaluma.

On the Target website, the existing store on Santa Rosa Avenue is labeled as "Santa Rosa South," rather than just Santa Rosa.

Target was previously in talks with Simon Property Group in 2009 for the former Gottschalks space. The company also had expressed interest in the Kmart site at the north end of the city, indicating Target could be interested in a second Santa Rosa location, but that deal didn't work out.

Last year, Windsor developers said they were in discussions with Target to build a store as part of a shopping center on the west side of Highway 101, across the freeway from Wal-Mart.

If Target chooses Coddingtown, it would inject energy into a mall that still bears the scars from the recession but is showing new signs of life.

Whole Foods opened a store in Coddingtown last year, bringing traffic to the northwest corner of the mall, but many storefronts still remain vacant.

The mall announced this week that BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse will open on the north side of the mall next year, after renovations to the area surrounding the main entrance.