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Gateway plans for Target hit bulls-eye with shoppers

If Kim Stansel sleeps in Sunday mornings, her fiance will hide the Target ads in the newspaper. The first one to find the bargains enjoys celebrity status in the household that day.

Her fiance, Mark Murzyn, said he would brag all weekend because he was first in their house to learn of plans for a new Target store at the outdated Gateway Mall.

"I just showed her the paper," he said. "We're tickled."

The couple was shopping at the Tyrone Target store Friday morning, stocking up on new movies, shoes and gifts for their three children. Stansel, a labor and delivery nurse at Bayfront Medical Center, said she used to own a sandwich shop in Gateway Mall.

A Target store is just what the area needs to attract shoppers, she said. And the Shore Acres resident is thrilled it will be in her neighborhood.

"I've been praying for a Target," she said.

"I can ride my bike there," added Murzyn.

The Gateway Mall Association, which owns the site, has announced plans to rebuild most of Gateway with seven larger retail stores, three restaurants, two banks and a regional postal facility. Developers say construction could begin within six months.

The Target store is tentatively planned for the northeastern corner of the property at Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street and 83rd Ave. N.

"We were excited when this one opened even though it's 20 minutes away," Misti Konsavage of northeast St. Petersburg said of the Tyrone store. "I love it here. It's so clean and there's so much room and they have good quality stuff."

"We call it Tar-ZHAY," said her mother, Judy Donaldson of New Port Richey.

Cathy Ware of Bay Point said she often makes the drive to Tyrone Boulevard and Park Street to shop at Target. Ware said she will be delighted when the Gateway Target opens. "Then all I have to do is get in my car and go up the Interstate," she said.

Some shoppers cruising Gateway Mall early Friday afternoon said they will be happy to greet the new Target.

"Oh, yes," said Agnes Sinclair. "We're looking forward to having something in this mall." She lives nearby and walks to shop.

"When you get into your 70s, you look for something that's convenient so you don't have to get someone to take you."

Sue Carlen, who was running errands with son Josh, 6, and daughter Abby, 8, also walks to Gateway. "Because we live so close," she explained.

Gateway already contains Carlen's favorite store, Upton's. She is thrilled about Target.

"This is such a great location. It's strange that (the mall) is not thriving," she said. "Between Target and Upton's, this place is going to jump."

Deborah Friedman is hoping so. She is the manager of the GNC nutrition store in the mall.

"We've been looking forward to positive changes for months," Friedman said. "That's why we've hung on for so long."

Possible Gateway revival also has at least one nearby neighborhood association excited.

City Council member Bea Griswold, who is running for re-election, told members of the Meadowlawn Neighborhood Association about Target during the group's Thursday night meeting.

"There was big applause," said president Fannie Weihman.

"We're delighted to have the Target at this end of town. It will give us a lot of choices. We're hoping it will attract more residents and a movie theater," Mrs. Weihman said.

Ron Waters, an eight-year resident of Barclay Estates, liked the idea of Gateway taking on a new look.

"It's been an eyesore for a long time. It would be nice to get it cleaned up," Waters said.

"My wife and I sell real estate, and we think (the new development) will be a boost to the real estate in the area," he said.

Staff writer Jon Wilson and Times Correspondent Jennifer Brett contributed to this report.