People have driven by construction work on State Road 54 east of the Suncoast Parkway and wondered what might be happening there.
A lot of those details were unveiled last week when Newland Communities vice president Tom Panaseny presented some of the first details of the recently resurrected Bexley Ranch project that will include about 1,700 homes over the next five years.
The massive development, which will stretch north past Tower Road, was put on hold several years ago after the housing market crashed and new home construction came to a halt. But with the market on the rebound, and people still looking to move to Pasco County, Panaseny said this was as good a time as any to get started.
“We’ve got our plans in review at Pasco County right now, and we think we’ll break ground in March or April next year,” he told a small crowd that gathered at the Residence Inn at NorthPoint across the street from the project. “We haven’t even announced any of the builders yet. But the builders really almost come in last, once we develop the community and figure out what type of homes that we want to build. Then we’ll match up the builders to the type of home.”
Homes will start close to $200,000, and run as high as $400,000, Panaseny said. While most of the development will be single-family houses, the front part of the development close to State Road 54 will include townhouses, attached villas, commercial and retail, and even a new hotel.
The retail portion is where most of the land is being cleared right now, Panaseny said. That will likely be up and running by the time that work crews start prepping the land behind it for residential development.
“We are talking to several retailers right now to come in there, one of which has never been in Pasco before,” Panaseny said. Past that on Bexley Boulevard will be about 5 acres devoted to office, as well as a business class hotel.
“The hotel here does very well,” Panaseny said, about the Residence Inn. “Hopefully, there is room for another one.”
This will be Newland’s first project in Pasco County. It has had a lot of success with other high-profile projects in Hillsborough County, most notably with FishHawk Ranch near Brandon, as well as MiraBay and Waterset in Apollo Beach. FishHawk Ranch has more than 5,000 homes, and is near completion after more than a decade of development work.
While the initial plans bring about a third of that volume of development to Bexley Ranch, the longer-term goal is to be just as big as the project expands east toward Sunlake Boulevard. Initial plans also include an elementary school, and Newland’s contribution to the construction of Tower Road to Sunlake Boulevard.
The project also will include a network of trails that would provide miles of both paved and dirt pathways for residents. The idea is to eventually connect with the Suncoast Trail, possibly by going underneath the highway.
The trails, Panaseny said, would show off the nearly 1,000 acres of conservation land the Bexley Ranch project already has set aside. And in a sales pitch to some of the potential buyers in the audience, the developer said views of those pockets of nature won’t be limited to the highest bidders.
“I look at things like wetlands, and you’ll see developers who will try to price those views so that only an individual home can look at a wetland,” Panaseny said. “You won’t see a lot of that with us. We try to make that public space, because we don’t just want to have individuals look at that, we want the community to be looking at that.”
The entire project, once all the phases are completed, could go as high as 6,000 homes, Panaseny said. However, that all depends on how Pasco County does in the future when it comes to attracting new residents.
“You’re talking about 20 years-plus, and that’s really hard to even speculate on that right now,” he said. “We have to start with what we know, and what we know right now is that there are 1,700 acres there that will keep everybody busy for four or five years.”
Published September 24, 2014
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