Clothing store follows Lamonts and Gottschalks in prime Warrenton locationRoss Stores Inc., plans to open a new store in Warrenton's Youngs Bay Plaza later this spring, bringing 40 new jobs and filling one of largest vacant commercial spaces in the area.

Katie Loughnot, the discount department store chain's vice president of investor and media relations, confirmed development rumors that have been swirling around the vacant space for more than a year.

The grand opening is scheduled for May 31, Loughnot said Tuesday.

The 25,684-square-foot space previously housed a Lamonts store, which was later acquired by Gottschalks, another regional department store chain, based in Fresno, Calif. Gottschalks closed its Youngs Bay Plaza location in late 2001.

Ross, which started construction on the space in February, will employ about 40 people, in a combination of full- and part-time positions, Loughnot said. The company will post job application information at the store about a month before the scheduled opening date.

The new Warrenton store is part of the company's aggressive expansion plan.

"We're opening almost 70 stores this year," Loughnot said. "We are growing quite rapidly."

The company, headquartered in Newark, Calif., has 507 stores in 23 states.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

Christian Garcia and other Premier Plumbing workers spend Tuesday afternoon working on the plumbing inside the Youngs Bay Plaza building, soon to house Ross.

There are 14 stores in Oregon, including Roseburg, Medford, Bend, Springfield, Eugene, Albany and Salem, and seven stores in the Portland area.

"So this will be our 15th store in the state as we continue to grow in both existing markets and new markets," Loughnot said.

The company looks for existing space to suit its needs, rather than building new structures, she said.

"We also look for communities that have healthy growth characteristics," she said.

The average Ross store generated $7.3 million in revenue in 2002. The company's average new store is 30,000 square feet.

As a whole, Ross did $3.5 billion in sales last year, an 18 percent increase from 2001.

According to the company's Web site, www.rossstores.com, "Ross offers first-quality, in-season, name brand and designer apparel, accessories and footwear for the entire family at everyday savings of 20 percent to 60 percent from department and specialty store regular prices." The company also carries merchandise for the home.

The company's target customers "are value-conscious women and men between the ages of 25 and 54 with middle to upper-middle income levels."

Ross was founded in August 1982, when a group of investors bought six San Francisco Bay Area department stores and converted to the "off-price format." The company has grown steadily since then.

Kirsten Larson, regional property manager for National Retail Partners, which owns Youngs Bay Plaza, called plans for the new Ross store "a good thing."

She said there are no other vacancies in the shopping complex on U.S. Highway 101, which was built in 1977.

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