Pasco County Backs Downtown Avalon Park

The Avalon Park Group has overwhelming support and backing from the Pasco County Commission to create a brand new town center for the Wesley Chapel community.

Downtown Avalon Park Wesley Chapel is being planned as a mixed-use development on 215 acres located north of State Road 54, about three miles east of I-75. The plan includes four freestanding office buildings that will have a mix of retail and commercial uses.

Avalon Park Wesley Chapel is developing a downtown that includes four freestanding office buildings that will have a mix of retail and commercial uses.

The first phase is already under construction and, when completed, will have 75,000 square feet of commercial space within walking distance to residents living in the community’s single-family homes, townhomes and apartments.

“We are creating a real downtown with businesses offices, shops and restaurants, because we want to greatly reduce the need for our residents to drive outside their community to get to work, take kids to school, shop and dine, and enjoy indoor and outdoor activities,” said Stephanie Lerret, senior vice president for the Avalon Park Group. “And now, with the full support of Pasco County, downtown Wesley Chapel will become a reality within the next few years.”

In February, the Pasco County Commission unanimously voted to approve an incentive package totaling $33.5 million. The agreement outlines that in exchange, the Avalon Park Group will spend about $83.3 million to build roads, multi-story parking decks and transit-related infrastructure.

In all, Avalon Park Group is planning to spend more than $800 million to develop its Wesley Chapel community of homes and downtown center. In return, Pasco County has agreed to provide an annual rebate of the previous year’s property tax payments, which will be capped at $32 million. These county rebates represent 38% of the total cost of public improvements.

David Engel, manager of the county’s office of economic growth, spelled out some specifics at a recent county commission meeting.

Beat Kahli

“The typical buildings are four stories in height. Commercial will occupy the first floor and three floors of residential above it. There also are five to six parking decks and four freestanding Class A office buildings,” Engel said.

Avalon Park Wesley Chapel will include 2,695 residences, 165,000 square feet of Class A Office, and 190,000 square feet of commercial space, Engel said. “Fifty percent of the residential trip generation on the site will stay on the site, once the project is complete,” Engel said.

The project is expected to generate 1,065 full-time jobs and have a total economic output of $84.4 million, according to county documents.

“Instead of building subdivisions, we are building towns,” said Beat Kahli, president and CEO of Avalon Park Group. “Having jobs within our community is the best way to  resolve traffic congestion caused by daily commutes.”

Kahli’s company already has done a similar project — Avalon Park Orlando — and is currently developing Avalon Park Tavares and Avalon Park Daytona Beach using the same standards.

Commissioner Jack Mariano said he’s aware of Kahli’s “tremendous success” in Orlando.

“I know you’re going to have it right here, as well. I’m glad you picked Pasco County,” Mariano said.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey added, “This is cutting-edge planning, right here. Being able to live, work and play in the same neighborhood is a great solution for sprawl.”

Published March 25, 2020

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