Avalon Park Wesley Chapel marked a milestone in a project that began decades ago, on State Road 54.
The community threw a party to celebrate the groundbreaking for the first mixed-use building in what ultimately will become Downtown Avalon Park Wesley Chapel.
Jazz Under the Starz, the Wesley Chapel Theater Group and the Pasco Fine Arts Council provided entertainment, and refreshments were served.
It was so hot outside, though, that even a tent and air conditioning could not keep it cool for the crowd that had gathered.
So, both Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and Beat Kahli, the CEO and president of Avalon Park Group, kept their remarks brief.
Moore told Kahli: “We’re very proud of the project. Proud of what’s yet to come.”
The commissioner noted the new downtown will provide jobs, which will allow residents to work locally instead of commuting to nearby counties.
Kahli offered a brief history about the project’s beginnings and he shared his vision of what lies ahead.
“You wouldn’t believe how long we’ve been involved with this project. We bought this land in 1988.
“When we bought this land, we bought it from a family, the Brown family.
“They were ranchers here. They actually didn’t want to sell their land, particularly to a developer,” Kahli said.
But he added: “We worked out a deal. We said, ‘You can farm your entire life because this will take decades.’
“Why not do a deal where we give you enough money, where you can pay for your retirement, your education of your kids, but you continue to farm.
“Unfortunately, my good friend Bill Brown died about five years ago,” but Kahli added, Brown farmed until the end.
Kahli then shared his vision for Avalon Park Wesley Chapel, a community of about 1,800 acres.
“The goal that we always have, when we do an Avalon Park, is to create a sense of safety and a sense of belonging,” he said.
He pointed to Avalon Park Orlando, a community just south of the University of Central Florida.
“It’s a complete town. We have second- and third-generations,” he said.
Plans for the new mixed-use building, as outlined in a community newsletter, call for a 73,067-square-foot building, with a variety of uses.
Those uses include 40 multifamily apartments, with 23,720 square feet of commercial/retail space on the ground floor. Initial plans for the commercial/retail space include a food hall of approximately 12,000 square feet, which will be called the Marketplace at Avalon Park.
Kahli noted the mixed-use building is just the first of many more buildings to come.
In addition to providing a glimpse of what lies ahead, Kahli introduced his two sons to the crowd and expressed gratitude to his team, noting they’ve been working for decades on the project.
He also thanked Pasco County.
“We work with many governments, around the globe actually,” he said. “Pasco County is a great county to work with.”
After Moore and Kahli concluded their remarks, they joined with others to fling a ceremonial shovel of dirt, to signify the groundbreaking of the beginning of a new downtown.
Revised July 27, 2022