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St. Pete’s Gateway Market Center in line for a massive makeover

Margie Manning



Proposed outparcel buildings at Gateway Market Center on 9th Street North.

The owner of Gateway Market Center, one of the larger shopping centers in St. Petersburg, plans an extensive renovation of the property starting early next year.

About 60,000 square feet of the existing building area will be demolished and several new buildings will be constructed, according to InvenTrust Properties Corp., a real estate investment trust that has owned the shopping center since 2010. Two new anchor-sized buildings will be developed at the center and three new buildings for small shop tenants and restaurants will be added. Two outparcel buildings will have large sidewalks and an outdoor seating area.  There will be direct access to the main portion of the shopping center from 4th Street North and 79th Terrace, and the center’s internal circulation will be revamped so cars and pedestrians can move around more easily.

Proposed gathering space at the renovated Gateway Market Center

The shopping center, at 7751-8229 9th St. N.,  is anchored by Target and Publix Super Market, which have recently completed their own store renovations. The lease for another major tenant, Beall’s, expires at the end of January 2022 and they have chosen not to continue their lease option, said Dave Joss, the company’s vice president of development and construction.

The investment comes at a time when the retail sector is beginning to rebound after a difficult year during the Covid-19 pandemic, when lockdowns and capacity restrictions impacted in-store sales, and online sales soared. Market conditions improved during the first quarter of 2021, as government stimulus payments were distributed and vaccinations accelerated, according to a national shopping center report from Cushman & Wakefield. The e-commerce surge is already starting to backtrack, the report said, and new store openings this year are expected to exceed the number of store closures.

Gateway Market Center has been a well-performing center in the InvenTrust portfolio, Joss said. In addition to the Publix and Target remodels, two new stores, HomeGoods and Five Below, recently replaced Office Depot.

“Additionally, there is a great deal of interest from other national retailers to join the center’s store lineup. Having that kind of retailer demand in a location is a perquisite for investing in adding additional retail space, making site improvements for better accessibility, and renovating the facade, landscaping and lighting,” Joss said.

InvenTrust currently has letters of intent from two national retailers for the anchor spaces and expects to hear final approvals from them within the next 30 to 60 days, he said.

The redevelopment will “right size” the retail stores, improve the connectivity within the site and provide numerous shopping center enhancements that elevate the overall customer experience, Joss said.

InvenTrust doesn’t yet have a final project cost. That depends on the plans of the incoming tenants and it’s still too early in the process to make that determination, he said.

Once the company has secured anchor space leases and tenants for the new outparcel buildings, it will begin taking construction bids. Work is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022 and take about 18 months to complete.


Matt Hagan, InvenTrust Properties’ vice president of leasing for the  Southeast region, and Kara Morabito, leasing representative, will oversee leasing at Gateway Market Center. Restaurants, casual dining and quick service eateries will be targeted for the adjacent outdoor dining space. Smaller shop spaces will be able to accommodate tenants of varying sizes, up to 10,000 square feet.

The St. Petersburg Development Review Commission approved renovation plans for the shopping center last year.

The current iteration of the Gateway Market Center was built in the 1990s, according to Mall Hall of Fame, a blog centered on American shopping centers. A predecessor on the site, Gateway Mall, opened with a Publix Super Market in 1963 and included Woolco, a discount store, as an anchor tenant. There also was a live performance dinner theater (Country Dinner Playhouse) and a movie theater.

The bulk of the former Gateway Mall was leveled in 1998 and replaced by Gateway Market Center. A new anchor, Target, opened in 1999, followed by a newly constructed Publix.

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    May 9, 2021at10:23 pm

    Bealls is the only original building from the Gateway Mall ….. back then, the side to the west had two mall entrances, where today only 1 entrance is.

    Woolworths was 1 of several anchors.

    There was a Scotty’s hardware store, originally where today is the offering lit for Target, an Ames (then Zayers) adjacent to Scotty’s (to the south), a 2 screen movie house, a spa with inground pool, a Morrison’s restaurant (an la cart cafeteria), several smaller stores, like Radio Shack, and a full service bank.

    A very well designed, unique mall, indeed.

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