Pasco County officials grant 10-year extension to 2021
By Steve Lee
WESLEY CHAPEL — Doomed by the recession, environmental guidelines and legal issues, the Cypress Creek Town Center at SR 54 and I-75 has been put on hold.
In November, Pasco County officials granted the developer’s request for a 10-year construction extension to 2021. Commissioners previously granted the Richard E. Jacobs Group extensions in 2008 and 2009.
Commissioners still must rubber stamp the extension, which so far has been approved by the Development Review Committee and Local Planning Agency.
“They have cleared two hurdles already,” said commissioner Ted Schrader, noting that the commissioners’ OK in December is a mere formality “unless something comes out of left field. At least it gives them some time to allow the market to recover.”
The Cleveland-based developer faced a Dec. 31, 2011 construction deadline for the 510-acre project. The first phase was to include a 1.2 million-square-foot mall, 600,000 square feet of retail space and 120,000 square feet for offices. Plans also called for 350 hotel rooms, 230 apartments and a 2,582-seat movie theater.
Despite the delay, Schrader said he thinks the mall will eventually be built.
“I firmly believe that you’ll see a mall there one day,” he said. “I think Cypress Creek Town Center will draw a tremendous amount of shoppers from Hillsborough County.”
Meanwhile, two malls in Wesley Chapel — The Grove and The Shops at Wiregrass — have opened and expanded in the past year.
For State Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), whose family lives in Wesley Chapel and shops at both new malls, delaying Cypress Creek makes perfect sense.
“I just don’t think the demand is there right now,” Weatherford said. “I think (the extension) is a good thing. They’ve got 10 years to figure it out.”
The delay could change the landscape of storefronts when and if Cypress Creek opens. The granted extension led to Target backing out. That potential anchor joined Linens ’n Things and Circuit City, which both backed out earlier this year because they went out of business.
The delay will also provide time for litigation to work out.
Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers suspended the developers’ permit after muddy water flowed into Cypress Creek, which feeds into Hillsborough County’s drinking water supply. When Jacobs Group agreed to pay nearly $300,000 in fines for violating the Clean Water Act, permits were reinstated in September.
There are outstanding lawsuits with the Sierra Club filing against the corps for issuing the permit and Kearney Construction and Jacobs Group filing countersuits against one another.
“They’ll get past all that,” Schrader said.