Macy's, Forever 21 may take over former Gottschalks stores

FRESNO - National retail giant Macy's and women's clothier Forever 21 were among the high bidders for store locations being vacated across the Western U.S. by bankrupt Gottschalks Inc.

In a real-estate auction today in San Francisco, Macy's was the prevailing bidder for Gottschalks' stores in north Fresno, at the Shops at River Park and in Visalia at the Visalia Mall, said Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman at Macy's corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Even before the auction began, Gottschalks had a $17.7 million bid in hand from Los Angeles-based Forever 21 for 16 of its stores in California, Alaska and Washington, including the River Park and Visalia Mall locations. But Larry Meyer, executive vice president of Forever 21, said his company agreed to drop River Park and Visalia from its bid to make way for Macy's.

Results of bidding for the rest of Gottschalks' owned and leased sites in six Western states were not available this afternoon. The auction results won't be final until they are approved by a U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. A court hearing on the sale is set for June 10.

Barring any holdups in court, Forever 21's bid will give it ownership of Gottschalks' properties at the Hanford Mall in Hanford as well as stores in San Luis Obispo and Yuba City, and Gottschalks' interest in store leases at Fresno's Fashion Fair shopping center and in Santa Maria, Chico, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Modesto, Davis, Riverside, Hemet, and in Yakima, Wash. and Anchorage, Alaska.

Macy's already has a store at Fresno's Fashion Fair shopping center. If the results hold up in court, the company -- which operates more than 800 department stores across the country -- will add River Park's 106,641 square feet and the 150,000-square-foot Visalia store to its inventory.