Once known for its cattle and citrus groves, the Wiregrass Ranch area of Wesley Chapel is now being viewed as a place where people can live, work, shop, learn and receive medical care.
During the past decade:
- Pasco-Hernando State College opened Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, giving Wesley Chapel students their first opportunity to seek a four-year college degree in their own backyard.
- Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel opened, and the demand was so great that the hospital expanded — well ahead of expectations.
- Florida Medical Clinic opened, on land situated near the hospital.
- North Tampa Behavioral Health opened, and has been so successful that it is already undergoing an expansion.
- Financial services giant Raymond James closed on the purchase of 65 acres of land and is expected to break ground later this year on a satellite campus, across from the college.
And, that’s just part of the story, according to J.D. Porter, president of sales and development for Wiregrass Ranch, in Wesley Chapel.
Besides the health care, education and commercial projects, residential growth is going strong, too, Porter said.
Wiregrass Ranch — with 340 housing starts — was No. 1 in housing starts in the period ending Dec. 31, 2016, according to a report by MetroStudy.
FishHawk Ranch, in southern Hillsborough County, was second on the list with 324 starts.
Other Pasco County developments among the top five were Long Lake Ranch, at fourth place, with 227 starts; and, Starkey Ranch, at fifth place, with 219 starts.
Porter expects residential growth to continue to flourish in Wiregrass Ranch.
He pointed to a contract on a large tract of land for a new active adult community that’s expected to close this year.
The development, which will have around 1,000 units, will fill a niche in the market, Porter said. “Nowhere in Wesley Chapel is there really an age-restricted community,” he said.
It will be “highly amenitized,” he said, and will be designed for people who are 55 and older.
Another residential development will offer row houses, and will appeal to people who are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle, he said.
More commercial growth is on the horizon, too, Porter said.
A 15,000-square-foot medical office is going up next to Florida Medical Clinic, he said, noting the bottom floor will be occupied by an orthodontist.
He expects that to open within the next seven months to nine months.
“They’re turning dirt like crazy right now, which is fantastic,” Porter said.
The medical office market is hot, Porter added.
“We probably get five to 10 calls a day,” he said.
It’s possible that another 100,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet of medical office could be added, he said. “It’s going to be limited by size.”
Porter also noted that his family is actually doing a strip center of its own on State Road 54, which will include restaurants and businesses which cater to local needs.
And, while there’s been a considerable amount of interest about when Raymond James will break ground and bring new employment opportunities, Porter said other major players are also eyeing the Wiregrass Ranch area.
Wiregrass is also on the shortlist of a couple of other companies that have equal, if not greater, name recognition as Raymond James, Porter said.
“Now that we have these foundations, it just ramps up to a different level, which is exciting,” Porter said.
Published March 8, 2017