A developer said Tuesday his company is “kicking the tires’’ on the idea of building retail stores on land adjacent to the Shenango Valley Mall in Hermitage.

“At this point I really don’t have anything I can disclose in terms of specifics,’’ said Kevin Dougherty, president of Smithfield, N.C.-based AdVenturecq Development LLC. “We’re very much in our infancy stage in reviewing the site.’’

Tentatively, the company is looking to bring in a “big box’’ retailer and develop a plaza with smaller stores and other parcels that would have other retailing possibilities.

“There’s a number of big boxes not in the Hermitage market,’’ Dougherty said. “We want to evaluate and analyze what you could put there.’’

AdVenture is looking at land owned by the McConnell family immediately north of the mall. William McConnell said Tuesday the company has an option on the land.

So far AdVenture has conducted soil tests and traffic studies and met with Hermitage officials on zoning and planning issues. City Manager Gary Hinkson said Hermitage and AdVenture staff held general talks but no formal drawings or plans were submitted.

“We’re trying to understand what they’re looking at for the future,’’ Dougherty said of the meeting with city representatives.

There’s no timeline for a decision.

But Dougherty said he expected to have solid ideas within six months.

While he declined to identify the retailers he was hoping would settle at the site, it’s long been rumored that Target and Kohl’s department stores have been interested in Hermitage.

Even if the project is a go, the earliest any retailer would open would be in the fall of 2007, Dougherty said.

He said he didn’t know whether the development would be connected to the mall building or a stand-alone site.

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