Rasmussen College soon will bring higher education to a vacant Target Super Store — the shuttered anchor at Suncoast Crossing plaza, off State Road 54 in Odessa.
The college plans to relocate from its current 25,000-square-foot education center at State Road 54 and Sunlake Boulevard, in Land O’ Lakes.
Developers are proposing to repurpose the former Target store, which closed in 2016.
A conceptual plan filed with Pasco County shows Rasmussen occupying more than 44,000 square feet. One and possibly two other tenants would fill the remaining shell space, separated from Rasmussen by an enclosed courtyard.
The flexible plan allows about 100,000 square feet to 115,000 square feet for a single business, or a split design with two businesses at 60,000 square feet and 40,000 square feet, respectively.
“It’s great to see something is moving in there,” said Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore. “We never want to see an empty building. It seems like Rasmussen is growing. We’re definitely happy they are here. It’s a good location for them.”
The approximately 173,000-square-foot Target property is owned by 24/7 DeBary LLC, which acquired the site from Target in July 2017.
A May 11 preapplication meeting is scheduled with Pasco County planners to consider the “Suncoast Crossing 1” redevelopment proposal, according to county records.
24/7 DeBary is an affiliate of MVP Holdings Inc., a Tampa-based owner of restaurants, including PDQ and Glory Days Grill. A company representative could not be reached for comment.
The Target store – in a mall with about 30 stores – opened in 2006, as growth along State Road 54 was taking off. The Great Recession that began two years later with the real estate and housing market collapse ushered in hard times for Pasco County’s economy.
But, the closure in January 2016 caught many by surprise just as a turnaround and renewed growth was taking hold.
Target officials closed 13 stores nationwide due to what they described as poor performance. The Suncoast Crossing store was among those singled out.
More than 140 employees lost jobs, though Target officials said employees would be offered transfers.
“I was very upset when Target closed,” said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. “I called corporate office to reconsider.”
After Target’s departure, she had hoped the site might attract new tenants that would create a retail and business complex similar to nearby Northpointe Village – at State Road 54 and Suncoast Parkway. The complex in recent years attracted new businesses along Northpointe Parkway, including Mettler Toledo, a global manufacturer of precision scales and services used in research, and the packaging and production of food and pharmaceuticals; and TRU Simulation + Training, which provides flight-training solutions, technical support and customer service for commercial and military markets.
But, she said, “I think Rasmussen will do well at that location (Suncoast Crossing). I’m heartened they are a for-profit college, so they will stay on the tax rolls.”
Rasmussen plans to make an announcement on its relocation plans in the “near future.”
“Due to key regulatory steps that still need to take place, Rasmussen College cannot yet share information regarding plans to relocate to a new campus,” according to an email from Molly Andersen, spokeswoman for Rasmussen College.
The new site, with substantially expanded space, comes as Rasmussen College is preparing for a new direction in its education model. By October, the college is expected to become Rasmussen University.
“This transition is more than a name change,” said Rasmussen President Trenda Boyum-Breen in a video message. “This is our next step toward a vibrant future. We are student-centered in our approach and future facing in our impact.”
Andersen in her email said additional details on Rasmussen’s transition to a university would be available soon.
Minneapolis-based Rasmussen College traces its beginnings to 1900, as a business school. The private college is a regionally accredited institution with more than 20 campuses nationwide. Its focus is on workforce and career-oriented education programs and degrees across several fields, including nursing, health science and business.
Of six Florida campuses, two are in Pasco — in New Port Richey and the soon-to-be closed location in Land O’ Lakes.
It’s not clear what is next for the Land O’ Lakes site.
Bayshore Properties LCC, affiliated with BayCare Health System, purchased the property in January for about $6.5 million, according to county records.
Representatives for Bayshore declined to comment at this time.
By Kathy Steele
Published April 22, 2020