The Grove at Wesley Chapel shopping center is in store for a major makeover — something being hyped as a future downtown entertainment district for the growing Pasco County community.
Owner and developer Mark Gold unveiled his vision for the property during a North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce luncheon last month.
He has sweeping plans for the large, but rather traditional strip mall, which is situated west of I-75 and north of State Road 54 .
The Grove is already home to a 16-screen theater and more than a dozen national retail chains, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Old Navy and others.
Gold purchased The Grove for $62.7 million in September, through parent company Mishorim USA Real Estate Investments.
While many of those major retail spaces will remain in place, it’s what Gold has in mind for the property’s surrounding 114 acres of vacant land that’s been generating buzz.
“I’m going to build a downtown Wesley Chapel,” he told a packed room of chamber members at New Tampa’s Pebble Creek Golf Club on Jan. 23.
To do that, the developer is bringing an 87-space container park to the plaza, predicting it could open within the next three months to six months.
Called KRATE, it will feature renovated shipping containers filled mainly by mom and pop boutique shops and unique eateries. The containers will be grouped together by walkways with options for indoor and outdoor seating. Curbside parking will be available, too.
Gold said he’s already leased 96% of the container park, which includes as many as 35 eateries, all with “different tastes, different feeling.”
That many food options in one spot alone will be a major draw, he said.
“If you put 35 restaurants in one place, it brings a lot of people, because people want the variety — the kids want to eat something, mother wants to eat something else,” Gold said.
The Grove’s KRATE area will be surrounded by an entertainment complex, with a large amphitheater and stage, and family friendly activities, such as a trampoline park and various miniature sports, Gold added.
Gold also announced that he has secured a permit from the Pasco Commission to allow alcohol to be consumed throughout KRATE — news greeted by loud cheers and applause from chamber members.
The developer’s concept is somewhat similar to Sparkman Wharf in downtown Tampa’s Channelside District, perhaps on an even grander scale.
He predicted that The Grove, over time, will become “a place to be,” as a one-of-a-kind destination attracting people from all over Tampa Bay.
He think it fills a need in Wesley Chapel, particularly for families.
He put it like this: “There’s lots of kids in this area with nothing to do. If you want to do something, you need to drive to South Tampa and suffer through the traffic. I want South Tampa to come to us.”
Weekly and monthly community and cultural events also are planned for The Grove and KRATE, Gold said.
For instance, there will be a nationwide graffiti contest for KRATE, where each container park will be able to get its own unique design. For example, the outside of a pizza eatery could be decorated up with Italian-style food images. “Graffiti alone is an event,” he said.
The developer also envisions a local-based singing competition, modeled somewhat after NBC’s TV program, “The Voice,” with winners receiving cash prizes upward of $10,000.
“Everything is on the table,” he said.
While he has loads of ideas, he’s also seeking input from business leaders and residents.
“Please be involved, it’s important,” he told chamber members. “If there’s something that’s not good, or there’s something you really like, let us know. I’m not from here, so I really don’t know, I can only guess.”
In addition to The Grove, Gold operates more than a dozen commercial properties, mainly throughout the southeastern United States, including Florida locations in Jacksonville and Orlando. Many of those properties include attractions, such as indoor roller rinks, zip lines in parking lots, haunted houses, obstacle courses, trampoline parks, climbing walls and arcades.
He decided to purchase The Grove after hearing about the massive growth happening in Wesley Chapel and surrounding communities, he said.
With reports of another 50,000 homes coming online in the next 24 months, Wesley Chapel has been labeled the fastest-growing community in the Tampa Bay area, and one of the fastest in all of the southeastern U.S.
Gold sees the potential.
Published February 05, 2020