The City of Zephyrhills continues to grow and change as it enters 2023.
“I think the biggest thing is, we’re not just a snowbird community anymore,” City Manager Billy Poe said. “We’re growing leaps and bounds, and now, as a city, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What do we want to be when we grow up?’ And what we want is everyone on the same page as we head into what is expected to be a busy future for Zephyrhills.”
Poe’s current passion project is the city rebranding. From the town slogan, logo and even color schemes, it’s a citywide image change that will be based on research and resident feedback.
“It’s to tell everyone who we are, what kind of city we are and have become, and what we have to offer,” Poe said.
In July 2022, city leaders brought in North Star Place Branding + Marketing, a Jacksonville-based consulting firm that will conduct research within the community to uncover how Zephyrhills is perceived, attitudes that people have about it, and to explore the city’s unique offerings. The firm then launched a survey in October, asking residents those questions. Since then, Poe said, there have been nearly 1,000 responses.
Poe hopes the rebranding will be complete by mid- to late-2023 to unveil to the public.
The city’s $100-million budget is nearly 33% more than it was last year, reflecting Zephyrhills’ growth.
It has earmarked $1 million to repair and add sidewalks throughout the town, especially around schools.
Poe says this is to “connect any missing links,” so residents can get around town without crossing streets or have neighborhoods connecting to the schools via sidewalks.
The sidewalks are coming at the right time and coincide with several road work projects, such as extensions of Dairy Road and Kossick Road, and improvements to the intersection at County Road 54 and 12th Street, next to Zephyrhills High.
In addition, Poe said the city was excited to welcome a new distillery — Dunamis Premium Spirits — which opened a tasting room by the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport off Chancey Road.
The distillery plans to convert the old SunTrust Building on Gall Boulevard into a two-story, glass-fronted tasting room and banquet hall that will be available for events.
“That could be a real game-changer for downtown Zephyrhills and a real shot in the arm for Gall Boulevard,” Poe said. “This project will be pretty cool, and I think that it’s exciting because, while not right downtown, it’s a couple of blocks away and could be a real catalyst in connecting that strip there into downtown.
“Because, let’s be honest, we’re almost at 18,000 here in Zephyrhills, so it won’t be much longer before we’re at 20,000.”
An estimated 1,200 to 1,800 residents are expected at the Abbott Square development off Simons Road, which is adding 600 homes.
“You want to grow at a controlled pace for several years to come, and we’ll see what happens — certainly we want to move forward, but we have to do it the right way,” Poe said. “Our goal is to grow a great community, with a balance of commercial and residential properties, so it becomes — and this is going to sound cliche, but it’s so true — where everyone wants to live, work and play.”
Additional Zephyrhills projects include:
Hercules Park: Plans are being finalized for a new $5.4-million park project that will be on the 12-acre parcel of land at the corner of County Road 54 and Gall Boulevard, adjacent to Woodland Elementary. City officials hope to have the full plans for City Council approval in time for a late spring/early summer groundbreaking. The park will include a splash pad, restroom, picnic shelters, a playground and trails.
The Backyard: An open-air park at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue will feature covered seating under teepee-like structures. Repurposed metal storage containers will serve as vendor spaces. There will be a stage, lighting, an event screen, plus service from food trucks. The initial design on the project came in over the $250,000 budget, so the city is having conversations to scale back the project. If officials can’t settle on budgetary concerns, the project may be shelved until a later time.
Multi-use indoor sports complex: A 30,000-square-foot multi-use indoor sports complex is planned to come to the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center, but also is facing funding issues. Money for this project had been planned through state appropriations, but that was pulled back due to Hurricane Ian. Facility plans call for room for four full-size tennis courts and other athletic events. The space also would be used for trade shows, banquets and ceremonies. City officials are looking to scale back some on this project and, of course, await the funding, with a late 2023 start date being very tentative at this time.
Airport additions: More state appropriation money has been given to the city to add a new terminal, two box hangers and a taxiway. This also would include jet parking after the airport finished a $5.9-million, 1,200-foot runway expansion in the summer that will allow the city to welcome larger planes, including private jets. Since 2011, the city has spent $32 million improving the airport and has another nearly $7 million of state appropriated funds to spend on it.
National Guard Armory Complex: A $25-million armory complex is expected to be completed by 2026, also built by state appropriated funds. This also will mean extending South Avenue to the north up to County Round 54. Bidding on this project will commence soon and future development will come at a later date.
Published January 11, 2023
Barbara & Robert Williams says
What Zephyrhills need is sone shopping stores. A Costco would be nice because you have to go to Wesley Chapel for everything. You have to go there to go shopping for clothes etc. Wesley Chapel has everything but Zephyrhills has nothing.
Wayne King says
What was the outcome of the Dec. 22, 2022 meeting over the widening of 301 and Gall Blvd?
Mike Camunas says
There was not a meeting on Dec. 22, so not sure what you are referring to. If you have questions relating to Zephyrhills that were not answered in these articles, you can always call Zephyrhills City Hall for information at 813-780-0000.
Debra Pecket says
What would be very nice in zhills would be some restaurants. You have to go to Lakeland or Tampa GOOD ONES.
Victoria Spradling says
What about the traffic flow, it’s a big problem now and when you add all of these new changes. How are you going to even get down Gall Blvd to get anywhere? We definitely need more retail for clothing and groceries, but traffic is a big concern.
Great to hear all the plans for the future. I agree with the lists already posted. I would add as a matter of high priority would be traffics lights from all the new communities emptying out on Eiland. It is almost impossible to turn left during the busy hours.
Will the airport in Zephyrhills be expanding so that people can fly in and out of here, rather than having to go to Tampa?
Bob Snyder says
What is the status of the new VA Medical Clinic? It appears the building is complete, but is just sitting there vacant.
Mike Camunas says
Working on an update on this. Can’t give details because they haven’t said I can state why yet.
Why aren’t we getting stores like Sams, Costco, Target and good restaurants like Red Lobster, a Walmart is slowing going down.
S matlack says
Omg where the heck is the road expansion. There are so many homes being built we can hardly get anywhere. Stop the procrastination and get it going. So many traffic fatalities due to impatience getting around. Don’t want to hear about sidewalks just road expansion.
We are new to Zephyrhills. Moved here in November from Illinois. Happy to be here! I couldn’t agree more regarding the comments and requests for more shopping. A Costco, Target, At Home, Home Goods etc., would be fabulous! Wesley Chapel and Lutz aren’t too far but depending on what day and time you head out, it could take quite some time to get there. With new home development, there are several families that I’d like to say feel the same.