Except for some weeks throughout March and April, the COVID-19 hasn’t halted much new development within the City of Zephyrhills.
That’s the word from Zephyrhills Planning Director Todd Vande Berg, who outlined a number of citywide projects during an East Pasco Networking Group virtual meeting on June 23.
Perhaps the most notable setback, Vande Berg said, involved a slight delay in court installations at the forthcoming Sarah Vande Berg Tennis and Wellbeing Center, due to some extra safety and travel precautions taken from Miami-based construction crews.
However, the nearly $5 million project on Simons Road is proceeding well, with a grand opening scheduled for mid-to-late August.
Aside from that, the planning director said, “I haven’t heard of a lot of slowdown, at least in our community.”
Underscoring the point is the myriad projects and initiatives Zephyrhills has in the pipeline — mainly in regards to new residential construction.
Larger single-family developments underway include The District at Abbott’s Square, Zephyr Lakes, Hidden River, Links at Calusa Springs, plus various expansions to the Silver Oaks and Silverado communities, respectively.
In other words, the city’s real estate market is “very hot right now,” Vande Berg said.
He explained, “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.”
Vande Berg added another 550-plus residential development is being planned around the new tennis center and should be underway a year or so from now.
The Lennar project will feature one-story villas, two-story townhomes and three different lot sizes. “It’s going to be a unique project,” Vande Berg said, adding, “we’re just beginning the due process on that.”
The planning director touched on a number of commercial developments, too.
Much is contingent on the addition of two signalized intersections on U.S. 301, Pretty Pond Road and Medical Arts Courts.
Funding for the $2.3 million project is in the state budget for this fiscal year. The aim of the traffic signal project — already out to bid — is to speed up potential commercial development in the northeast and northwest corners of U.S. 301 and Pretty Pond, and to improve access to the Merchants Square and Townview Square shopping centers.
The project will “spur a lot of development” along the intersection, Vande Berg said.
Additionally, a slew of light industrial businesses have recently set up shop at Park Place Center — an industrial park situated on Chancey Road south of Skydive City. That development is funded by a group of local investors.
“There’s a lot of activity going on in there,” Vande Berg said. “If you get a chance, go back there and drive around in that industrial park and you’ll see everything that’s going on in there.
“We’re always excited when we have new, quality industrial manufacturing coming in, that creates jobs, they don’t require a lot of city services, and they generate a lot of ad valorem revenue for the city, so it’s always very positive, and you see that happening, to help diversify our community economy, and just good business overall,” Vande Berg said.
Another visible construction project underway is the rebuild of Jerry’s Crystal Bar on Gall Boulevard. The bar had been a community landmark downtown for over 60 years, until a fire destroyed the building last May.
The project will fall 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.
The planning director described the new building as “a big improvement” from beforehand, adding future projects within the corridor will be required to meet form-based code — a tool used to regulate new development in a manner compatible with the community’s vision.
For example, Vande Berg noted a builder is looking to erect townhomes on Seventh Street, so those structures likewise would be situated right up to the street with backlot parking.
Vande Berg observed of the zoning regulations: “You’ve probably seen that in other communities where it’s been pretty successful, so we’re doing the same thing here.”
Another anticipated project moving along is a new 14,000-square-foot Veterans Affairs clinic, at 378727 Eiland Blvd. Construction broke ground last June, but work halted after last-minute changes to modify the facility’s design and layout.
Those site plan changes were recently approved by the city’s review committee, Vande Berg said, “so they should be getting along with that pretty soon, we anticipate.”
In the arena of new eateries, Zephyrhills is set to land Chipotle and Chick-fil-A franchises in the near future.
Chipotle has been approved by the city for a small commercial outparcel in the Zephyr Commons Shopping Center and construction should begin soon, Vande Berg said.
Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, will be located at the northeast corner of U.S. 301 and Pretty Pond Road. The franchise is likely waiting until the new traffic light project is a go before construction gets underway, Vande Berg said.
Some other updates and happenings for Zephyrhills the planning director shared:
- An extension of Kossik Road is complete, to service the Abbott Park residential development.
- The city is working with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on continuing State Road 56 east of U.S. 301 with four-lane alignment alternatives, as well as one-way pairs on Gall Boulevard.
- The city received a $15,000 grant from Duke Energy toward the long-range Zephyrhills Industrial Corridor master plan.
- The city has applied for a $15,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to revamp the housing element of its comprehensive plan.
Published July 08, 2020