FOUR CORNERS -Words like "awesome" and "great" were among the exclamations used by Polk County residents in Four Corners when told about the major retail outlets that are planned for the long-awaited Posner Park development.

"That sounds cool, really awesome," was the way Debbie McNally, who lives just off U.S. 27 near the Polk-Lake county line, put it.

The project manager of the 80-acre, mixed-use development at the southeast corner of U.S. 27 and Interstate 4 - Kitson and Partners - announced last week that 10 major retailers have committed to build stores on the property that will eventually offer shoppers 630,000 square feet of retail space.

And it's not going to be all that long before some of those stores will be ready to accept customers. Richard De Lotto of Kitson said construction will begin soon.

"You should see some walls going up the first week in June," he told The Reporter. "Probably one of the big stores like Target will be ready in the spring of 2008."

The 10 retailers that have contracted to become part of Posner Park will provide nearly 500,000 square feet of store space. An 11th anchor tenant is expected to commit soon, and a number of smaller specialty stores will fill in the retail portion of the project.

The 10 anchor stores are: Target, J.C. Penney, Belk, Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Staples, Ross Stores, Michaels Stores, PetSmart and Books-A-Million.

"My wife will be very happy," Bass Lake resident John Ryan said, adding the nearest shopping centers of any size and variety are well outside Four Corners and require a substantial drive.

"Because of gas prices, this will be an advantage," Ryan said of the Posner Park plan.

Kathy Gelles, another Bass Lake resident, counted off how far she has to travel to get to a regional mall.

"Kissimmee Eagle Ridge Florida Mall," she said, adding gas-price concerns keep her from going to some stores she might frequent if they weren't so far away.

"I don't go to Target, but I would if one were close," she said. "Same with Belk."

Posner Park has been on the drawing board for several years, but has been slow in taking shape. On the site that once held Baseball City, its progress was slowed by the death of Victor Posner - who conceived the idea - in 2002 and by the extensive project's long permitting process.

Eventually, Posner Park - as envisioned by Victor Posner - will resemble a European "Garden City" with tree-lined boulevards, restaurants, high-end boutiques, at least one five-star hotel, luxury multi-family homes, entertainment and cultural venues, and pedestrian parks. It is expected to take from eight to 10 years to complete.

"I think it is just phenomenal," said Mark Reicher, vice president of ChampionsGate, which is the nearby development in Osceola County. "It just shows how this marketplace is maturing."

Reicher, one of the people who established the Four Corners Area Council, said the retail outlets that Posner Park will offer do not pose a competitive threat to shopping areas that have already sprung up in Four Corners - places like his own ChampionsGate with its commercial section and Berry Town Center on U.S. 27.

"These are different offerings," he said of the national chain operations that are coming to Posner. "We are thrilled that a regional project is coming to this marketplace."

One major impact it will have, Reicher predicted, is that more permanent residents will move to the area that has been replete with vacation-home developments.

"The three things people want to know about an area are schools, hospitals and shopping," he said.

Posner Park will play a big role in providing one of those three legs in Four Corners.

The Posner Park retailers are:

Target - a Minnesota-based retailer with 1,502 stores in 47 states.

J.C. Penney - The nation's largest general merchandise cataloger with 1,039 department stores in the U.S.

Belk - America's largest privately owned department store with more that 279 stores in 17 states.

Dick's Sporting Goods - Pittsburgh-based with 294 stores in 34 states, mainly in the eastern U.S.

Best Buy -North America's leading specialty retailer of consumer electronics, entertainment software and appliances has 1,170 stores in the U.S., Canada and China.

Staples - The leading U.S. office supply retailer with 1,900 stores in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Ross Stores - America's second largest discount retailer.

Michael's Stores - The largest U.S. arts and crafts retailer has 921 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

PetSmart - The largest chain pet store with 908 outlets in the U.S. and Canada.

Books-A-Million - The third-largest book retailer in America with 206 stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia.