Latest industrial construction to boost area jobs profile

Central Pasco County continues its bid to become the high-technology hub of the Tampa Bay region with the start of a 135,000-square-foot office center at ComPark 75. And last week, development owner Larry Morgan welcomed Gov. Rick Scott and other dignitaries for a ceremonial groundbreaking at his latest $15 million effort.

Larry Morgan, center, chief executive of Morgan Family Ventures, stands with Gov. Rick Scott, left, and Ross Kirk, executive managing director of Cassidy Turley, in front of Building C at ComPark in Lutz. Lawmakers labeled the construction off Wesley Chapel Boulevard the first major commercial construction in Pasco County since the start of the economic recession. (Photo by Michael Hinman)

Larry Morgan, center, chief executive of Morgan Family Ventures, stands with Gov. Rick Scott, left, and Ross Kirk, executive managing director of Cassidy Turley, in front of Building C at ComPark in Lutz. Lawmakers labeled the construction off Wesley Chapel Boulevard the first major commercial construction in Pasco County since the start of the economic recession. (Photo by Michael Hinman)

“There is something else much more important going on here than just the construction of these buildings,” Morgan, chief executive of Morgan Family Ventures and former owner of Tires Plus, told the crowd outside of his Building C on the chilly, damp morning. “The American way is for the people to have the opportunity to invest their money and time and things of that nature, and that entrepreneurial spirit certainly exists here at ComPark.”

The walls for Building C are already up, with the larger Building D planned to be built not far behind it on Pet Lane. Both buildings will offer more than 30 office units ranging in size from 3,030 square feet to 5,175 square feet. Three of the units in Building C have already been leased, including the Pasco County Tax Collector’s office, which signed on after a Wesley Chapel location at The Grove fell through.

Getting the building off the ground required more than 30 permits, but the bureaucratic red tape has not been as restrictive as it once was, Morgan said. The county has come a long way.

“I have been a critic of regulation my whole business life, but things are definitely getting better in Pasco,” he said. “The whole county organization is getting better.”

The construction project has employed nearly 600 people, and will create more than 250 jobs once the units start filling up. Many of those jobs, Morgan said, would be high-waged.

And that could give a local boost to Scott, who is facing a tough re-election this year potentially against his predecessor, Charlie Crist, and working to raise what has been consistently low approval ratings.

“We all care about what happens to you,” Scott said. “We want jobs. The most important thing we can do is create an environment that will get to work.”

Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, says he can only see growth in Wesley Chapel’s future thanks to projects like ComPark.

“Wesley Chapel is the hotbed of economic opportunities in the state of Florida,” he said, adding that government can help developers by getting “out of the way.”

“It’s an honor to get out of your way and let you do your job,” Legg said.

ComPark 75 is 60 acres of developable land just off Wesley Chapel Boulevard to the west of Tampa North Aero Park.

Only three units remain available in the first phase of ComPark’s construction of two nearby buildings that total a little more than 100,000 square feet. Morgan also hopes to build a four-story office building on the eastern side of the property fronting Interstate 75.

New State Rep. Amanda Murphy, who succeeded Mike Fasano in the Florida Legislature, was the only Democratic lawmaker on hand at the ceremony. She said the ComPark project would help the entire county, although she did wish it was in her district.

“I am a little jealous because the other side of the county doesn’t get something as wonderful and beautiful as this,” said Murphy, who is based in New Port Richey. “But it benefits all of Pasco County, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Published Feb. 5, 2014

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