Pasco is real estate ready

The real estate market in Pasco County is thriving.

And, evidence of that was on display at “Meet the Developers: The Future of Real Estate.”

The annual breakfast meeting, hosted by the Pasco Economic Development Council, brought together developers, real estate brokers, investors and community leaders at the Residence Inn on March 2.

Four examples of Pasco’s current and future development initiatives were highlighted: Compark 75, Starkey Ranch, Connected City and the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program.

Compark 75 defied conventional wisdom that building on speculation in the midst of an economic meltdown would be a bad idea. The initial developer in 2008 abandoned the project.

Tom Ryan, economic development manager for Pasco Economic Development Council, standing by the podium, moderated a panel on the future of real estate in Pasco County. On the panel, from left, were: Danielle Ruiz, economic development manager for Duke Energy; Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development; Heidi Tuttle-Beisner, broker with Commercial Asset Partners Realty; and Matt Call, project director for Starkey Ranch/Wheelock Communities. (Kathy Steele/Staff Photo)

Tom Ryan, economic development manager for Pasco Economic Development Council, standing by the podium, moderated a panel on the future of real estate in Pasco County.
On the panel, from left, were: Danielle Ruiz, economic development manager for Duke Energy; Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development; Heidi Tuttle-Beisner, broker with Commercial Asset Partners Realty; and Matt Call, project director for Starkey Ranch/Wheelock Communities.
(Kathy Steele/Staff Photo)

But, Larry Morgan of HR Pasco LLC, and Ross Kirk, of KVR Development LLC, joined forces as owner and developer, respectively, to take on the challenge.

The industrial park is next to Interstate 75, about halfway between State Road 54 and State Road 56 interchanges. Suncoast Parkway is 12 miles to the west. The Tampa North Aero Park is along Compark 75’s northern boundary.

In 2014, a $15 million expansion of the industrial park broke ground. It was the first major investment in commercial office construction in Florida since the 2008 recession.

More expansion is under way, with the ongoing construction of a new 65,000-square-foot building. It will be the fifth building at the 165-acre site.

Every building has gone vertical without signed tenants. But, the park is nearly filled to 100 percent capacity. Plans also are  are under way for a new building that can be designed as a multistory office, or built-out for light industrial or manufacturing.

“As fast as we can build them, we are finding quality companies to go in them,” said Heidi Tuttle-Beisner, a broker with Commercial Asset Partners Realty who handles leasing for the park.

Starkey Ranch is a master-planned community of more than 5,500 homes under development by Wheelock Communities in Odessa, off State Road 54.

Groundbreaking on the first model homes took place in 2014. Homes are now selling in Whitfield Park. The welcome center opened in spring. And, Taylor Morrison anticipates a grand opening in April for its model home center for the Esplanade subdivision at Starkey Ranch.

The interest in the ranch is evident in the 2,400 visitors on average who click onto the community’s website each week, said Matt Call, project director for Starkey Ranch/Wheelock Communities.

Interest also is high on the proposed business park and retail sites planned at State Road 54 and Gunn Highway.

Call said announcements would be made on an anchor grocery store, likely in June. And, an apartment complex also is coming at that location, with an announcement expected soon.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in this opportunity,” Call said.

A one-of-a-kind gigabit community and a crystal lagoon are the centerpiece attractions for Metro Development’s “connected city” corridor.

State lawmakers created a special development district for about 7,800 acres in central and eastern Pasco County as a 10-year pilot program. Interstate 75, State Road 52, Curley Road and Overpass Road border the district. Development in the district will be able to bypass the typical state reviews in favor of local control in the hands of Pasco County commissioners.

Metro Development is developing master-planned communities on the former Epperson Ranch within the special district. One town center feature will be a 7-acre man-made swimming pool, known as a crystal lagoon.

“We want that to be integrated into the community,” said Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development.

But, Metro Development also will create the first planned gigabit community, or Connected City, in the nation. Residents and business owners will live, work and play in an environment linked by Ultra Fi, a broadband system with speeds so fast that photos can be downloaded in seconds, not minutes.

Assistance in its development will come from US Ignite, a nonprofit group founded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation.

Future development on property adjacent to Zephyrhills Municipal Airport is getting a boost from Duke Energy through the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program.

In 2015, Duke Energy representatives worked with the city of Zephyrhills on a study of about 440 undeveloped acres around the airport.

The site is centrally located in Florida, and is in proximity to such highways as State Road 54, I-75 and Interstate 4. In addition, there is the bonus of a CSX rail line in the area.

Duke Energy has reviewed nearly 190 sites in six states in the southeast during the past 10 years.

Information from these reviews serves as a guide for local communities that want to create pad-ready sites for development.

One obstacle is expansion of the site’s wastewater capacity at an estimated cost of $1.7 million, said Danielle Ruiz, economic development manager for Duke Energy.

However, she said tax revenues from the Penny for Pasco program could provide funds for this project.

Pasco County recently launched a revolving loan program, with up to $15 million available to make sites pad-ready or to build shell buildings for potential industrial, manufacturing or flex-space. The deadline to submit proposals to the county is April 11.

Published March 9, 2016

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