The official groundbreaking for Speros FL — Moffitt Cancer Center’s Pasco campus — happened a few weeks ago and construction activities are expected to ramp up soon.
“We’re starting to put some shovels in the ground,” said John Allgeier, senior director of the Pasco real estate development for the Moffitt Cancer Center expansion project.
“It’s exciting to see it start going,” added Allgeier, during remarks at the Feb. 7 North Tampa Bay Chamber breakfast meeting.
The first phase of the 775-acre campus will begin in the northwest corner of its property, near the Suncoast Parkway and Ridge Road.
“That’s where we’ll start our buildings,” Allgeier said. “We’re only going to build on probably 480 (acres) to 500 acres of the land.”
“The wetlands, they’re amenities, really,” he added, noting the idea is to provide views of nature for patients who are getting infusions, for instance, rather than have them stare at blank walls.
The Moffitt site is entitled for up to 24 million square feet of development, but Moffitt’s current master plan calls for about 13.5 million square feet of mixed uses, Allgeier said.
At full build out, the campus is expected to have about 140 buildings, which will be constructed according to design guidelines. At this point, no buildings over six stories are planned.
The campus will be divided into what Allgeier describes as “six neighborhoods,” with different types of uses in each one.
The vision is to create a community that will become a hub for international research, education and cutting-edge treatment.
There’s already a partnership between Moffitt and Pasco County Schools, involving the new 6-12 Angeline Academy of Innovation magnet school, 1 mile east of the Suncoast Parkway. The school is set to open in August, beginning with students in grades six through 10.
Ultimately, the mission of Speros FL, which when translated means ‘hope,’ is to find a cure for cancer, Allgeier said.
“It’s really beyond research and clinical. It’s really about collaboration. It’s about what partners can we bring in? What entrepreneurs? What innovators can we bring in to partner with us, to hopefully cure cancer and do other things in health care,” he said.
“We obviously have a lot of pharma partners. We do cell therapy, cell manufacturing,” he said. Data centers, manufacturing and warehousing are other expected uses.
“All of these things support us, and then can collaborate with us,” he said.
Construction has begun on the road into Speros FL, and construction is expected to begin on the buildings in the middle of this year. Crews will be building roads, between 600,000 square feet to 700,000 square feet of buildings and parking garages — all at the same time, he said.
Initial plans call for a research building of about 300,000 square feet, with a wet lab.
There’s also an outpatient center of about 80,000 square feet and a proton therapy center of about 20,000 square feet.
Proton therapy, he said, “is kind of like radiation on steroids. It’s the newest thing,” Allgeier said.
Moffitt plans to bring in an office developer at the north end of its property to create a “dry lab” for researchers. “Dry lab” refers to where researchers work using computers and crunching data.
Plans also call for bringing many of Moffitt’s administrative employees, who are now working at scattered leased spaces in Tampa, to the Pasco campus.
Allgeier estimated that about 35% of Moffitt’s current employees already live in Pasco.
For many others, the commute won’t be much different than the one they already make to Moffitt’s location at the University of South Florida, he said.
Of course, that won’t be true for everyone, he said. “Some live in Ruskin, they’re going to be a little bit upset.”
Planning for what happens on the Speros campus has been in the works for about two years, Allgeier said.
Finding the property took about a decade, he said.
Selecting this particular site began around 2016, when Moffitt was working with the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc., he said.
In addition to working with Pasco EDC, Moffitt worked with Pasco County, the state of Florida and Metro Development, the developers of Angeline, a new city that’s rising around the Moffitt site.
Moffitt closed on its property in 2019.
“Now, here we are. We’re getting a lot of interest,” Allgeier said.
Besides playing a pivotal role in cancer research, Moffitt is expected to create a sizable economic impact, from its workforce and from the other companies that are attracted to the Pasco campus.
Allgeier said he expects there will be a couple of thousand people working on the Speros FL campus, when it opens, which is expected in late 2025 or early 2026.
He also expects Moffitt — which has several locations — to continue to grow.
Moffitt currently has 8,500 employees, Allgeier said. Its workforce is likely to double by 2030, based on its current growth estimates, he said.
Pasco approves conduit loan
The Pasco County Commission has approved a request by Moffitt Cancer Center for a conduit bond, which allows Moffitt to borrow funds at a tax-exempt rate.
Moffitt plans to use the conduit bond to borrow up to $400 million to develop its Pasco Campus.
The county is not responsible for the debt. Moffitt’s allocation of state cigarette tax will be used to pay the debt, according to Robert Goehig, the county’s budget director.
The IRS requires a public hearing to be conducted on the request and requires that the county board finds that the project is in the public’s best interests.
No one spoke during the public comment portion of the public hearing on Feb. 7 and the county board unanimously approved Moffitt’s request.
Published February 22, 2023