Now that developers of a proposed outlet mall just off Interstate 75 took a big step forward last week with revised site plans for their 57-acre project, one question remains on the minds of local businesses: Will the new mall include “Wesley Chapel” in its name?
“I think on one hand, we would love to have our local identity,” said John Hagen, president and chief executive of Pasco Economic Development Council Inc. “We would love to see that be more prominent, but we also benefit from our association with Tampa and Tampa Bay. It’s a mixed bag, but I see both things.”
Simon Property Group, part of the development team that’s officially JG Cypress Creek LLC and Tampa Premium Outlets LLC, have named the project on Wesley Chapel Boulevard and State Road 56 “Cypress Creek Town Center Premium Outlets Mall.” However, it’s unclear whether that name is just a working title, or if that is a final decision.
A request for comment from Simon about the name was still pending when The Laker/Lutz News went to press.
Wesley Chapel might be part of the greater Tampa Bay area, but the community has long sought its own identity, and has pushed hard for businesses — especially high-profile ones — to include “Wesley Chapel” in names, and not “Tampa.”
Because this mall will be so prominent for the thousands of travelers that take to I-75 each day, this could very well become a place maker for Pasco.
“Outlet malls draw regionally and nationally with snowbirds and all that sort of thing, and we see it in some respect as a tourism play,” Hagen said. “Once you get things going there, we can leverage some hotel development, and you’ll probably see some office buildings as well as an area like that can really come alive. It should be exciting.”
Hagen points to The Shops at Wiregrass as a prime example of what a major shopping center can do, especially as other businesses come to fill in around it.
The revised plans call for the entire mall property to be constructed in seven phases, beginning with outlet mall itself. The mall calls for nine buildings with 482,000 square feet of retail. Overall, the project is calling for 1.1 million square feet of retail space.
The mall got back on track last November after developers finalized an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about how the project would impact surrounding wetlands and waterways.
Back then, Simon officials said the mall could open as early as the end of this year. However, County Administrator Michele Baker later put that timeframe somewhere around summer 2015.
There are still other questions to answer beyond the mall itself, including what plans are to expand and extend Wesley Chapel Boulevard, and other infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate the mall.
“That particular piece of road, down to State Road 54, is already designed,” Baker told members of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce back in January. “When we balance our capital improvement budget, we look at the needs for the what and where, and we balance that. The road got pushed out because we didn’t have a mall there that needed it.”
Published April 16, 2014