Hillsborough approves South Shore development despite concerns about Big Bend widening costs
TAMPA — A developer will pay $102,000 to widen Big Bend Road near its South Shore industrial park under an agreement reached with the Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday.
The amount is three times what the developer, Duke Properties, originally agreed to pay but is still just a fraction of the county’s projected bill for the road improvements. Staff estimates the widening could cost between $4 million and $5 million.
The new agreement passed 5-2 with Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Stacy White voting against it.
Duke plans to build 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space and 28,000 square feet of retail on Big Bend Road near U.S. 41 in Gibsonton. The expected rise in traffic will require the widening of Big Bend from four lanes to six between U.S. 41 and Waterset Boulevard.
The project has become the poster child for what commissioners see as lopsided agreements for developers, who pay far less than they used to for road improvements. Six years ago, widening Big Bend would have fallen on the shoulders of the developer. However, a change in state law means the county is on the hook for all but $34,000 of the expense. Duke agreed to pay three times that to ease commissioners concerns.
Beckner and White, however, said the agreement was still problematic. In addition to just paying a fraction of the cost to widen Big Bend, the agreement also extends Duke’s exemptions from future mobility fees to 2026.
The county is considering a switch from the current system of impact fees charged to developers to mobility fees, which would be much higher. Under the agreement, Duke would only have to pay impact fees through for the next decade.
Commissioner Sandy Murman, however, said it wasn't fair to pick a fight with Duke when other development agreements with similar issues were already approved.