Pasco County and Avalon Park Group/sitEX have reached an agreement on a package of incentives aimed at encouraging the development of a new downtown in Wesley Chapel.
The plan calls for a new mixed-use, urban-scale development on 215 acres, off State Road 54, in a community now being called Avalon Park Wesley Chapel.
Avalon Park Group/sitEX proposes to spend more than $800 million to create the new downtown, which will feature multi-storied buildings, with a mix of uses that will be within walking distance — thereby greatly reducing the need to drive outside of the community to go to work, take kids to school or meet various daily needs.
The Pasco County Commission voted 4-0, with Commission Chairman Mike Moore out ill, to approve an incentive package totaling $33.5 million.
The agreement outlines that the developer will spend about $83.3 million to construct a spine road through the project, multi-story parking decks and transit-related infrastructure.
The county has agreed to provide an annual rebate limited to 20% of the previous year’s property tax payments, which will be capped at $32 million and represents 38% of the cost of the public improvements.
Avalon Park/sitEX also plans four freestanding Class A office buildings, and has agreed to expedite the construction of the phase, containing a minimum of 75,000 square feet, in exchange for a loan of $1,250,250, which was approved as part of the deal.
David Engel, manager of the county’s office of economic growth, spelled out some of the specifics during the county board’s Feb. 18 meeting.
“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.
The project will include 2,695 residential units, 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 return on investment (ROI) to the county is substantial,” Engel said. “We looked at the ROI based on the nonresidential development for the downtown.”
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.
Beat Kahli, president and CEO of Avalon Park Group, envisions creating a place people won’t have to leave, to meet their daily needs. Instead, they will be within walking distance to many of the activities they need or want to do.
“When I moved from Switzerland more than 25 years ago, it wasn’t actually the mountains which I missed in Florida.
“I knew there were none.
“It wasn’t even that it was hot and humid,” he said.
What he missed, was living in a place where he could live, work and play.
“If you want to satisfy a daily need, you wouldn’t have to go in your car. That’s what I was used to, when I was growing up in Zurich, Switzerland.”
“Instead of building subdivisions, we have to build towns,” Kahli said, noting that’s the only way to resolve the traffic congestion caused by daily commutes.
Pasco commissioners are enthused by the plans.
“It’s such a great project,” said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. “We’re just really excited to watch this come up out of the ground.
“This will really be downtown Wesley Chapel,” she said.
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 Ron Oakley agreed: It’s going to be a great project for this area of Pasco County.
Starkey also noted: “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 February 26, 2020
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