There’s been much discussion about J.C. Penney’s overhaul under former Target exec Ron Johnson, now the Texas-based retailer’s CEO.

His elimination of the constant rotation of sales flopped, although Penney’s circulars and ads are now much cleaner and more appealing than rivals’. Then, this month’s the sudden departure of another former Targeteer, Michael Francis, from Penney’s top ranks caused shares to plummet.

Plans to rehab Penney stores nationwide will continue — an overhaul that involves dividing each into about 100 boutiques or “stores within the store,” and creating a “town square” at the center of each store. Penney will release new, affordable collections from designers Cynthia Rowley and Vivienne Tam this fall and has a stable offering of other brands, such as Nike, Sephora and Liz Claiborne.

Here in the Twin Cities, St. Louis Park-based Stahl Construction will play a key role in the physical overhaul of Penney stores in Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Roseville and Woodbury. Renovation of all six stores will occur simultaneously, with work being rolled out in phases. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Each “store within a store” will be for a specific brand and have a unique look that sets it apart from the rest of the store,” explained Stahl spokeswoman Lauren Evans.

Stahl has done work for the midmarket retailer in the past, including renovations in St. Cloud and Roseville, the conversion of another department store into a Penney’s store in Eden Prairie and construction of a new store in Baxter.

Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.

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