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After years of anticipation, high-end retailer Nordstrom is finally coming to Santa Rosa, planning to open a discount Nordstrom Rack at Coddingtown Mall next year.

The deal, revealed publicly for the first time at a city Design Review Board meeting Thursday, calls for the retailer to open in a new 31,000-square-foot building to be constructed just north of Macy’s.

“The Coddingtown Mall partners are thrilled that Nordstrom Rack is coming to Coddingtown,” said Kirstie Moore, spokeswoman for Codding Enterprises, which developed the ’60s-era mall and now owns it with partner Simon Properties. “This has been a long time coming for us. This is a key piece of the mall’s ongoing redevelopment.”

Seattle-based Nordstrom has 301 stores in 38 states, including 116 full department stores and 178 Nordstrom Rack stores, which sell upscale clothing, footwear, jewelery and homewares at a 30 to 70 percent discount.

“Nordstrom has things you can’t get anywhere in Santa Rosa,” said Tamara Anderson as she shopped Friday afternoon at Coddingtown. “It’s great news.”

Another shopper, Cathy Goodwin, said she always enjoyed shopping at Gottschalks, the department store that closed in 2009 after it filed for bankruptcy, because of the deals she could find on brand-name goods.

“I’m a thrift store shopper, so I’ll probably give it a try,” Goodwin said.

The Codding family sought for years to attract the upscale retailer to the mall, to no avail. The effort has continued in earnest since the family in 2005 sold half its interest in the mall to Simon Properties, the largest mall owner in the world.

That partnership has infused new life into what for years had been a staid suburban mall, bringing new national retailers like Whole Foods and Target to the mall as well as chain restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.

The new Nordstrom Rack will be the final new national anchor tenant for the mall’s renovation, but Moore said she expects it to help attract more new tenants.

“We believe bringing Nordstrom Rack to Coddingtown is going to open up more opportunities to bring more high-class retailers to the mall,” Moore said.

The deal is not just a coup for the mall but for the community, whose shoppers have long desired the selection and cachet associated with the Nordstrom brand, Moore said.

“Anybody you talk to in the community about Coddingtown asks if Nordstrom is coming. It’s long been the buzz,” Moore said.

Nordstrom officials could not be reached for comment Friday. Moore declined to disclose details of the lease or project cost.

The existing section of the mall, which housed Bank of the West, Sweet River Grill & Bar, and Baskin-Robbins, among others, will be demolished this summer. Construction of a new building will begin in October. Codding Construction expects to complete the shell and turn it over to Nordstrom in the spring with the goal of a September 2016 opening, Moore said.

The merchants who remain in that northeast corner of the mall are either moving to new locations in coming weeks or going out of business. The ones who are moving said they hoped the new national retailer would increase foot traffic to the interior of the mall, which still suffers despite the new tenants on the exterior.

“Nordstrom will be a good draw for the mall,” said Albert Mouttapa, owner of International Imports, which sells an eclectic variety of flags, tapestries and collectibles.

The shop has been located at five different sites in Coddingtown during its 41 years there. Mouttapa, whose shop is now located in the space that for years was occupied by Sweet River, has a photograph near the cash register of him with Hugh Codding, who developed the mall in 1962 with an emphasis on local merchants, and Codding’s son David, who now owns Montgomery Village.

Mouttapa said he’ll be moving soon to the north side of the mall, which he said is getting busier thanks to the pedestrian improvements and new restaurants.

Other stores aren’t so lucky. F.Y.E., which sells DVDs and CDs, is holding a going-out-of-business sale and will close July 28. A store manager, who declined to give her full name, insisted it was the eviction by the mall, not industry trends toward online downloading of movies and music, that is responsible for the store’s demise.

“Our sales are fine. We’re a million-dollar store,” she said.

Other tenants that will be relocated include the Thomas Kincaid Gallery, Express Shoes, California Cuts and Baskin-Robbins.

In addition to the new building, a new tower-shaped entrance similar to others that have been constructed around the mall will be installed west of the new building.

Coddingtown considered trying to reuse the existing two-story structure, which has unused office space upstairs. But it ruled out reuse for structural reasons, the company’s Seattle-based architect, Paul Wanzer, told the design board.

The Design Review Board approved the mall’s plans on a 5-2 vote Thursday, with two members expressing concern about whether the project met city codes for its facade and parking.

Board member Katharine Anderson said she felt the proposed building facade didn’t meet city code relative to the placement of the sign.

“At this point, basically it’s a billboard with a sign above the parapet,” she said.

Another Codding project, the Dick’s Sporting Goods store just south of the mall, ran into similar conflicts between the retailer’s desire for a massive sign protruding above the building and the city’s rules aiming to restrict them.

The project heads to the Planning Commission on Thursday for consideration of two exemptions to new pedestrian-focused zoning rules for the area.

One requires parking behind stores, and the other requires 80 percent of storefronts to be windows, neither of which make sense for a large retailer in a mall setting, project proponents argue in documents submitted to the city.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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