The East Pasco municipalities of Dade City and Zephyrhills are poised for a busy 2021 in terms of infrastructure, development and other community programs.
Here’s a closer look at some of the highlights in the new year:
Let’s get artsy
“The Heart of Pasco County” moniker soon can be taken on quite literally in Dade City — in the form of an outdoor, permanent public artwork exhibit.
The Dade City Center for the Arts in February will celebrate the installation of a new outdoor public art exhibition — in the form of about a dozen 8-foot-tall metal heart sculptures painted by local artists and installed throughout historic, downtown Dade City.
Proposed locations for the 3D heart sculptures, which will have varied artwork patterns on each, include:
- Hibiscus Park
- City Hall/Police station alcove entrance or nearby
- Green space entrance to Hardy Trail
- Meridian Avenue/U.S. 301 intersection, near Dade City Heritage and Cultural Museum
- Naomi S. Jones Park
- Whitehouse historical landmark on Old Lakeland Highway
- Lock Street/Hardy Trail intersection
- Agnes Lamb Park near Meridian Avenue
- Price Park
- Watson Park
- Dade City Garden Club
The community initiative is designed not only to color up the downtown area, but also to use public artwork as a photo opportunity and marketing tool, to encourage residents and visitors alike to stroll throughout city limits. More frills include installing QR codes on each sculpture mapping out the location of other city landmarks and providing information about a particular artist or meaning of the artwork itself.
The entire concept is similar to outdoor art events in other cities that bring together artists’ creativity with a sculptural icon that relates to the city. In Dade City’s case, its official seal has a heart shape surrounded by kumquats in its center.
The city’s arts center also has been approved to create a wall mural at the site of the former CenturyLink building at Hardy Trail and Eighth Street.
Visitor’s information center coming
Roy Hardy Trail cyclists and exercisers alike will have a spot to take a breath, relax and learn about the happenings in their community all at once.
It comes in the form of a visitor’s information center adjacent to the Hardy Trail on Church Avenue.
The 1,380-square-foot open floor space will feature informational kiosks and mobile displays for all county tourism amenity partners.
The building also will be accompanied by two porches and a bike rack — its location designed to offer easy access off the Hardy Trail for users to gather and rest. The facility will have two family bathrooms, as well.
A groundbreaking is slated sometime in early 2021, with completion expected in the summer.
The project is funded with the help of a $250,000 grant from the Pasco County Tourist Development Council.
Sprucing up downtown
Dade City leaders have made it a priority for 2021 and beyond to ensure that the city’s historic downtown area is safe, clean and generally more desirable to stroll through.
The city is moving forward with plans to install additional crosswalks along Seventh Street and Meridian Avenue, and is improving stormwater drainage near Seventh Street and Pasco Avenue.
It also is exploring traffic-calming initiatives to reduce vehicle speeds. And, it is making public parking space changes, boulevard additions, and encouraging landscaped parklets to create additional outdoor seating areas.
Additional resources also will be dedicated to downtown cleanup — including mowing, weeding and litter patrol of city-owned properties in the Community Redevelopment Area.
Meanwhile, the city’s public works team is in the midst of enhancing the lighting downtown parking lots, as well as Agnes Lamb Park on Ninth Street.
Marketing rebrand in the works?
The City of Dade City is plotting a full-scale marketing rebrand to capitalize on residential and tourism growth in Pasco County and Tampa Bay area, at large.
The city has earmarked $40,000 in this fiscal year’s budget toward a marketing and advertising plan, promotional activities and other contractual services.
But, before that money, and possibly much more, is allocated specifically, Dade City commissioners want to hear what the public thinks — and that includes local business owners, residents and other stakeholders.
Efforts to gather input throughout the year could take form in charrettes, surveys, monthly forums, and even door-to-door visits.
How to best promote its current and forthcoming amenities remains the looming question.
Does the city try to emphasize its unique collection of downtown shops and restaurants? Focus more on recreation attractions inside and outside the city limits? Leverage its budding reputation as a location for rural destination weddings? Or, perhaps will it simply brand itself as an ideal location to raise a family?
City of Zephyrhills
Iconic business to reopen
The longest-operating bar in Zephyrhills is set to reopen in early 2021 — almost two years since it was destroyed by a fire.
The original Jerry’s Crystal Bar had been in business since 1954, at 5707 Gall Blvd.
That all changed in May 2019 when a two-alarm fire electrical in nature suffocated the building’s attic and roof, yielding a total loss.
A complete rebuild of the iconic, family owned establishment is coming along swimmingly since a May 2020 groundbreaking. The bar’s owners expect a grand opening ceremony in January or February.
The new building takes on an elevated, modernized look and is nearly double the size of the old structure. It also falls under the requirements of the city’s form-based code for the U.S. 301/Gall Boulevard corridor area, whereby the facade is aligned right up to the street with a wide sidewalk and all parking is situated behind the bar.
U.S. 301 intersection project to spur commercial activity
The completion of an intersection improvement at U.S. 301/Pretty Pond Road, expected in mid-2021, is expected to open up opportunities for increased commercial development.
The $2.3 million state-funded project calls for new traffic signals on U.S. 301 at Pretty Pond and at Medical Arts Court/ Townview Avenue, along with other median and roadway improvements.
Once construction is complete, the area is poised to land Chick-fil-A and Chipotle chain restaurants, among several other businesses and attractions.
Residential developments popping up
Don’t be surprised if “The City of Pure Water” get a little more crowded in 2021 and beyond.
Significant progress or completion is expected on a number of large-scale residential developments throughout the municipality.
A slew of new housing communities is actively underway — such as Abbott Square, 700-plus units surrounding the new Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center off Simons Road; and Abbott Park, 500-plus units tucked behind the Zephyr Commons Publix Shopping Center, off Gall Boulevard.
Other notable homesites include the Link at Calusa Springs, north of Silverado Golf & Country Club; the Oaks at Pasco, southeast of Silverado Golf & Country Club; and Skybird Properties, off Alston Road near the municipal airport.
Simply put, the city’s real estate market is “very hot right now,” Zephyrhills Planning Director Todd Vande Berg said earlier this year.
“I don’t know where all these people are coming from, but these housing subdivisions are selling homes for over $300,000 with HOAs and CDDs. I wasn’t sure how that’d work in Zephyrhills, but you drive up to Silverado and before the lot infrastructure is completed, you’re seeing a ‘Sold’ sign, so it is amazing.
“Even through this COVID-19 environment, the residential housing…has really stayed very strong, which helps the city from a budget and revenue standpoint,” said Vande Berg.
More bells and whistles for tennis center?
Could the newly opened Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center continue to add to its wide range of features this year?
Well, the City of Zephyrhills and the Zephyrhills City Council are giving strong consideration to a second request for state funding to expand the state-of-the-art facility on Simons Road.
The northeast corner of the 10-acre property has been reserved for a 30,000-square-foot indoor multi-purpose sports complex — enough room to handle four full-sized tennis courts, and can also be converted to accommodate soccer, weddings and even concerts.
This past year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a $1.5 million appropriation for the Phase II project from the state’s budget amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that might not stop city leaders from continuing to push for the project. Appropriation requests for this year must be submitted to the state by early February.
The $4.9 million tennis center, which opened in September, already includes numerous courts and other amenities.
Published January 06, 2021