A new development planned for 965 acres at the southeast corner of Interstate 75 and State Road 52 is expected to generate 6,000 jobs.
The Pasco County Commission approved an incentive deal on June 7 to help pave the way for the development.
The Pasco Town Center, as the proposed development is known, is expected to include 4 million square feet of industrial space; 725,000 square feet of office space; 3,500 housing units, 400,000 square feet of retail and 300 hotel rooms.
The agreement with Columnar Holdings includes a $55.8 million incentive package, funded mostly through property tax rebates, as specific milestones are met.
The development company also will install key roads and utility connections beyond the Pasco Town Center Property – providing $70.1 million in public infrastructure, with no direct cost to taxpayers, according to David Engel, the county’s director of the office of economic growth.
The infrastructure includes sanitary sewer, potable water, reclamation lines and roadways, Engel said.
“The project completion of all of this $70 million worth of infrastructure is in three phases, with a terminating target date of Dec. 31, 2028.
That public infrastructure “will expedite and attract job-creating industrial and employment center development” in the area, according to details in the county board’s agenda backup.
“We’re proposing to provide $46.2 million in ad valorem equivalency grants. That’s (in) the form of a rebate. The developer pays taxes in Year 1 and he gets rebated a portion of the taxes in Year 2, which is 33% for most of the development and 20% for the multifamily,” Engel said.
The agreement also provides $9.6 million in cash reimbursements to the company toward constructing the master utilities within the employment center area of the master-planned unit development. That will be paid for with $2 million in Penny for Pasco proceeds and the rest through county funding.
Laying the groundwork for employment growth
Engel noted the developer has requested assistance because the county wants “to accelerate creating a development-ready environment in the employment center,” Engel said.
“Because of the pressures in the marketplace and our lack of inventory, we do not have suitable space for companies to come in to that area right now, and we have tremendous demand for that.
Engel also noted: “We’ve requested — and the developer has agreed — to increase the industrial entitlement from 1.8 million square feet of industrial to 4 million square feet of industrial.”
Pasco Town Center is within the Employment Center area of Connected City.
After incentive rebates, the new development is expected to generate over $300 million in revenue for the county over the next several decades, Engel told the county board.
The agenda memo notes that “all the described incentive payments will be deferred and accrued in a county escrow account for the benefit of the company until 1 million square feet of industrial and/or office space is built, which may include occupied or ‘spec’ (speculative) building space.”
Based on the development phasing schedule provided by the company, the county estimates the project will yield aggregate ad valorem revenue totaling $386,581,404 during the 40-year ad valorem rebate payment period, the memo says.
It also is expected to create nearly 6,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, at build-out, the memo adds.
Engel’s office forecasts a 10-year return on investment equaling 35 times.
“The benefits of the project, related to economic growth, are profound because we’re focusing on installing all of the public master roadway and utility infrastructure in the Connected City employment area,” Engel said. “That will be on the developer’s property and off-site, to serve the entire area.
“This is the most productive agreement that I’ve brought forth to date to the board,” Engel said. “The Rooker project, for example, which we provided Pads and Pours funding, was $9.80 a square foot. This is $9.60 a square foot.
Once the project is complete, $1 contribution by the county will give us $100 in return to the local economy,” Engel said.
Michael Wolf appeared on behalf of Columnar Holdings, which plans to develop the site.
He told the board that the company is part of Traylor Construction Group, which helped to build the Howard Frankland Bridge back in the 1990s. Traylor is a third-generation company, run by four brothers today, Wolf noted.
“We buy raw land, entitle it and do these infrastructure improvements. We also have construction arms for doing vertical construction, as well.
“We’ve had a very strong presence in the Orlando market for the past 15 years, developed almost 5,000 lots there in major master-planned communities, largely adjacent to Disney World,” he said.
The company is “very experienced in the space — construction, development.
“We’ve also got horizontal development going on in Austin, as well as in Denver, as well as southwest Florida.
“We’ve got experience in all asset classes, from residential, industrial, multifamily, single family and so on,.” Wolf said.
Developer will pay attention to design
Wolf assured board members that the developer won’t “just lay out large industrial buildings, but ( will) work on place-making, as well.”
It is collaborating with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences on creating a sustainable design, including fitness components, he said.
It also wants to create dining and entertainment options for employees and residents of neighboring master-planned communities, he added.
The agreement won’t take effect until after the site receives the county board’s approval of a master-planned unit development rezoning request.
That approval appears highly likely, based on enthusiasm expressed by county board members.
“I think it’s a win-win for the county and for our developer,” said Commissioner Ron Oakley, noting the project is located within his district. “I appreciate you being here and building this kind of product for us.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano added: “This is a very exciting project.”
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey told Wolf: “This looks really fantastic. I’m really excited we’re getting this quality of development at (I) 75 and (State Road) 52. I’m sure you’re going to be very successful there.”
In keeping with her persistent advocacy for trails and for making it easy for people to get around, Starkey asked the developer to pay attention to that issue.
Wolf agreed with Starkey: “We just think it’s so important to really, truly get that activation, to have folks be able to run, bike, golf cart, what have you. If we don’t have those components, we won’t be able to activate that space.”
As he reiterated his support for the project, Oakley noted that when he left Pasco to go off to college, he was able to return to work in the citrus industry.
Others that left for college were unable to come back for jobs in their professions. Projects like this increase job opportunities and help to change that picture, Oakley said.
Wolf told board members that the proposed rezoning for the project is working its way through the process.
Wolf told commissioners that the developer hopes to get a shovel on the ground this year.
Published June 22, 2022