Pasco County’s outlook is bright, panel says

Panelists speaking at a real estate conference in Wesley Chapel last week said Pasco County has been making strides and is expected to continue to do so.

For decades, Pasco County has been considered a bedroom community — with residents making a daily commute to jobs in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

That picture is changing, said Heidi Tuttle-Beisner, an expert in commercial real estate.

“The excellent thing for Pasco County is that we now have jobs being created right here. We have big national companies that have chosen to build their developments here and hire the people that we have living in our community.

“Whoever thought companies like Mettler Toledo would be here?” Tuttle-Beisner said.

“Lots of people are paying attention to Pasco County,” she said.

She also gave high marks to the Porter family for the work they’ve done to manage the development of Wiregrass Ranch, in Wesley Chapel.

“People like the Porters have really done an incredible job of keeping the quality up. I don’t think we’re ever going to see (State Road) 54 be (like) U.S. 19. They set the standard,” she said, noting they have been strategic not only in building relationships. But also “building buildings that are attractive.”

Mark Metheny, division president of Lennar, said he spends a lot of his time trying to find locations for new Lennar communities.

A good example of the range of Lennar’s offerings can be found in Wiregrass Ranch, he said. Estancia is a multigenerational community, with a number of product lines, he said. There are homes exceeding $1 million, but there are also high-end townhomes coming in, he said.

“It’s really exciting to see the growth that’s going on in Pasco County,” Metheny said.

Clarke Hobby, a land use attorney based in Dade City, said his family has deep roots in Pasco County.

“We are very interested in the long-view of the county — building a great community, great places to live for our families and for many generations beyond us,” Hobby said.

“We’ve watched the Porter family and have seen their vision play out. It’s a wonderful thing they’ve done at Wiregrass – more than anything else, they’ve tried to create a balanced community. It’s so easy to just focus on the residential.

“The harder part is to bring the employment side and the institutional side, making sure that places like the building we’re in today, are here. Without their guidance, that wouldn’t have happened,” Hobby said.

He’s optimistic about the outlook in Pasco County.

“There’s a bright, bright future ahead of the county,” said Hobby, who has been involved in the effort to extend State Road 56 from Wiregrass Ranch over to Zephyrhills.

The four-lane extension, which covers 6.7 miles, is expected to open up within a few months.

He expects that extension to generate new activity, leading eventually to the construction of about 10,000 houses and millions of square feet of development.

J.D. Porter, another panelist, told the crowd that he, too, anticipates continued growth — as well as new employment.

He expects the long-awaited Raymond James office park to “start turning dirt by the end of the year.”

“It’s very exciting to have one big user like that, and we are waiting for somebody to come out of the ground,” Porter said.

That being said, he noted, “we are talking to two names that are bigger than Raymond James right now, in the immediate area adjacent to that.”

“The Raymond James announcement, once they finally go, that will be a drop in the bucket versus what actually comes down the pipeline shortly after.”

Porter also noted the family wants to be sure to have a mix of development, so the community doesn’t become too reliant on big users.

Published May 16, 2018

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