Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Suit Filed over Cypress Creek Mall Development Dropped Next Day

A suit was filed Tuesday regarding the decision of the US Army Corps of Engineers' permit approval and its acceptance by the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the Cypress Creek Town Center. Since earth moving equipment is already underway at the site, it was unclear if this new dark cloud would slow or stop construction of the megamall. Then on Wednesday, the lawsuit was dropped. Looks like it is clear skies for the developers of this 1 million +/- square foot mall now.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Playhouse for New Tampa?

A public hearing will be held on July 19th to determine if some 13 acres of surplus land already acquired for the widening of Bruce B. Downs can be used for a future playhouse and home of the New Tampa Players in New Tampa. According to Laura Kinsler, an outdoor band shell and nature trails are also included in the proposed use for the land.

If approved however, don't look for any bricks and mortar anytime soon as this is one of several steps necessary before the New Tampa playhouse can be built.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

East-West Connector in New Tampa

After months of little or no news about the New Tampa East-West Connector, connecting New Tampa to I-275, the Tampa Tribune reports that the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority is negotiating cost cutting design changes to reduce the cost of the toll for this road.

With a projected toll of $2.75 for the 3 mile connector, it was widely speculated that the demand by commuters would be insufficient. So, the goal now is to try to narrow lane width, median width, and shoulder width to reduce the toll to $1.50. These changes will necessitate a reduction in the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph.

Optimistic projections for a construction start are now set for October of this year with an opening in 2010.

On another note, the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority has now narrowed the list to 5 finalists in its search for an executive director.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wiregrass Hearing at Pasco Board of County Commissioners

After hours of discussion among Pasco County commissioners, staff, and attorneys, the commissioners today voted 4-1 to continue the Wiregrass hearing until their next meeting on July 10th in Dade City. Among issues remaining to be resolved are: the timing of roads to be built, roads to be included in "proportionate share", parks, etc. The attorney representing the developer for this massive proposed Wesley Chapel development made the statement that "we are 95% there". The Wiregrass Ranch development is said to be the largest in the history of Pasco County and covers 5,000 acres.

Impact Fee Increase Approved

Today Pasco County Commissioners approved a 13% increase in impact fees requested by the Pasco County School Board. Buyers typically can expect this increase to be passed on to them by builders.

Monday, June 18, 2007

East - West Connector in New Tampa

Boy, things have been very quiet about this proposed toll road with 20 years in the making. In February, bids were received from private companies. Since then, the silence has been deafening!

The $40 million a year Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is overseeing this project and it has been troubled over the past year with controversial board members, an audit, and resignations. Governor Crist recently appointed two new members to this board.

With a scheduled "opening" of 2009, the Board needs to get busy on this! I am trying to track down the status of this proposed road in New Tampa.

Saddlebrook Resort Golf Course in Wesley Chapel in Top 100

Traveler, the Conde Nast travel publication has named Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL in the top 100 golf resorts in its June 2007 publication.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Approval for hospital in Wesley Chapel!

After almost a year's delay, it appears that the combined proposal by University Community Hospital & Adventist Health System was successful in getting approval of the Certificate of Need (CON) for a new hospital in Wesley Chapel. Proposals for Wesley Chapel hospitals (80-100 beds) were made due to the high growth (past and future) for this area and the distance to a hospital in Zephyrhills or nearby Tampa (University Community Hospital) at USF.

The proposed 80 bed, $121 million hospital is planned to be located across from Saddlebrook Golf & Tennis Reort on S.R. 54.

A competing bid by BayCare for a hospital in Wesley Chapel, was not approved and appears DOA, pending legal challenges that could delay the UCH/Adventist Health System hospital's hopes of beginning construction next year.

Source: Chuin-Wei Yap, St. Pete Times

Wesley Chapel Business to Business Expo

The annual Business to Business Expo and Taste of the Town for Wesley Chapel will be held on June 23rd at Wiregrass Ranch High School, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. With the addition of Taste of the Town, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce is expecting a higher turn out. Additionally, children's activities will be included in the event.
The location this year will be at the Wiregrass Ranch High School on Mansfield Boulevard.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Restaurants & Businesses to Open in Wesley Chapel, FL

Ashley Furniture, the new furniture store in Wesley Chapel, on the south side of S.R. 56 next to I-75 has opened. In addition, the following new businesses located on north side of S.R. 56 in the Cypress View Square (Next to Sports + Field) have signs up and work is underway on the interiors: Cafe Fresco & Bakery, Boardwalk Frozen Custard, Seven Oaks Pet Hospital.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

1st Double Branch Elementary School PTA Meeting

The new Double Branch Elementary School in Meadow Pointe, Wesley Chapel, scheduled to open this school year will have its first PTA meeting at 6:00 p.m. on June 12th at the school on Chancey Pkwy off of Meadow Pointe Blvd. Additional information on the new school can be found at the school's website: or by calling (813) 346-0400.

Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel

Pasco County has asked for $581 million from the developers to help pay for the necessary road improvements of this massive proposed community in Wesley Chapel, FL. Final hearing is scheduled for June 19th.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wesley Chapel Road Construction

Anyone traveling on County Road 54 in Wesley Chapel is well aware of the construction underway with its widening. Long overdue, construction of this phase is scheduled for completion in January/February 2008. The $16.8 million widening will be a big help, but won't include improvement for Pasco County's "malfunction junction" (Bruce B. Downs at 54). The improvement of that intersection and widening east on 54 is at least a few years away!

Another increase in Impact Fees for New Homes in Pasco County?

Struggling to keep up with the high residential growth in recent years and projected future growth (Wiregrass, etc.), Pasco County School Board Members will be considering a 13 % increase in impacts fees on new home construction. Facing increased construction costs the Board may feel that a hike to $4,874 per home is justified. This comes after a recent increase in impact fees approved by the Pasco County Board of Commissioners for transportation costs.

New Wesley Chapel Malls Update

The Cypress Creek Town Center is poised to begin moving dirt for construction of this megamall that has been delayed repeatedly in the permitting process. With 1.3 million square feet, this will be the largest of the three malls currently racing to the finish line. Located west of I-75 on the north and south sides of S.R. 54, this mall will include an 18 screen movie theater.

Just several miles to the east of this planned megamall, is the location of the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, located at S.R. 56 and Bruce B. Downs where JC Penney is located, and with 750,000 Sq. Ft. planned. With partial approval earthwork is underway and the developer is hoping for final approval of Wiregrass by the Pasco County Commissioners this month.

The photo to the right is north east of the JC Penney.

The last of the three larger competing malls is The Grove, also in Wesley Chapel. I was amazed at the progress on this new Mall located west of I-75 at County Road 54, just north of Cracker Barrel. Planned space = 800,000 sq. ft.
Phase one of this mall will include PetSmart, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Michaels, etc. and it has an expected opening of Fall of this year. Phase 2 will also have an upscale movie theater and is planned to be completed next year.

Smaller retail construction in Wesley Chapel can be found at County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs where Target is located.
The last local Wesley Chapel area poised for commercial development is located at the "secondary" entrance to Meadow Pointe. Carrabbas Restaurant is slated to begin construction here before the end of the year.

All these malls will be competing for shoppers from nearby residents in New Tampa, the large communities of Meadow Pointe, Seven Oaks, & Lexington Oaks in Wesley Chapel, as well as Land O Lakes and the expected massive residential development of Wiregrass.

Heritage Isles in New Tampa

Once again Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club has made a change in the management of its restaurant, clubhouse, and golf course. A team from Saddlebrook will be taking over management and changes can be expected with the restaurant menu and service.