Dirt could turn soon for a planned outlet mall on State Road 56 near its junction with Interstate 75. But the final product will look quite different from the original designs when it was announced more than seven years ago.
“It was supposed to be a big box mall,” Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker recently told an economic development committee of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. “Obviously, during that period, many of those (originally announced) tenants had to go elsewhere, so they have a new plan on how they want to be out in the marketplace.”
A lot of that is to move toward an outlet mall concept, which was part of developer Simon Property Group’s and landowner Richard E. Jacobs Group’s unofficial announcement last November when news the mall was back on track first started to leak.
Although the plans have been in the works for years, the modifications are taking a little more time since the project will essentially be redesigned, Baker said. And “presuming nothing really crazy happens in the economy,” the new Tampa Premium Outlets should be on track.
Whether it will actually open by the end of this year, as Simon told The Laker/Lutz News last November, is a big question mark at this point. Amanda Boone, development review manager for Pasco County, said her department is still waiting for a site plan.
“I’m not really sure of what their timetable is, because they control when they submit (their site plan) to us,” Boone said. “I did hear July of next year.”
Simon Property Group itself has remained mum on the mall outside of its initial statement in November. The mall has received barely a mention in public filings with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission since 2012. However, Simon has not released any public filings on its financials since August, and isn’t expected to do it again until the end of January.
When the mall does open, roads surrounding it will have to carry a lot more traffic. That could mean the widening of Wesley Chapel Boulevard leading into the mall is back on the fast track.
“That particular piece of road, down to State Road 54, is already designed,” Baker said. “When we balance our capital improvement budget, we look at the needs for the what and where, and we balance that. The road got pushed out because we didn’t have a mall there that needed it.”
In fact, the county had not planned to begin work on the road until 2022 at the earliest. With a mall now in play, however, it’s likely Simon and Jacobs will want that road operating at higher capacities, and will push for a start date to occur much sooner.
But that depends on what the developers are willing to contribute. The mall developers have around $46 million in unused proportionate share money that was supposed to be used to extend Wesley Chapel Boulevard south through their development, Baker said.
“We have been exploring on whether we can widen Wesley Chapel Boulevard instead, and we might be able to move that forward in our capital plan,” she said. “That’s, of course, depending on how negotiations go with the mall.”
Published Jan. 29, 2014