New Store on the Way to Clay? Kohl's Big Retail Chain Looks at Fleming Island

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Byline: R. Michael Anderson, Clay County Line staff writer

A Wisconsin-based retail chain with more than 600 department stores in 40 states has its sights set on a 17-acre pine forest on Fleming Island as part of a plan to enter the Florida market next year.

According to the Clay County Planning Department, Kohl's Corp. has been quietly negotiating with developers in Eagle Harbor for a site on which to build one of the company's first stores in the Sunshine State.

"From what I understand they have it under contract," said Holly Schriefer, Clay County's chief planner. "It'll have to go through a zoning change in January and site plan review in February. Then they can pull [building] permits."

The proposed Kohl's site is near three other major retailers: Wal-Mart Supercenter, Target and Stein Mart. But, evidently, the newcomer feels there is room for another big store in the neighborhood.

"They seem to think it can [compete]," said Schriefer. "They do their market studies."

Noting the addition of large, national retail stores in Eagle Harbor in recent years, she said the community has become "more of a regional commercial area." But whether Kohl's is destined to become the fourth major retailer in Fleming Island is something the company is not willing to disclose just yet.

"We have not made any formal announcements about any plans in Florida. We don't comment on rumors or speculation," said Steve Mann, a spokesman in the apparel and home goods retailer's corporate headquarters in Menominee Falls, Wis.

Kohl's, which Mann described as "a family-focused, value-oriented department store," recently opened 41 new stores, including 11 in the San Francisco Bay area, five in Salt Lake City and two in Reno, Nev. …