South Shore development willing to triple contribution to widen Big Bend Road after commissioners protest
TAMPA — The company behind a South Shore development is willing to triple how much it pays to widen Big Bend Road after Hillsborough County commissioners complained it wasn’t enough.
Duke Realty had agreed to pay $34,000 for its share of the cost to widen Big Bend Road as part of its 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. Under an amended agreement submitted to commissioners on Tuesday, Duke increased its share to $102,000.
The concession means Duke would pay more than it is required to under the current system, but still only covers a fraction of the cost to widen the road. County staff estimates its a $4 million to $5 million project. Duke's move also comes as the county weighs a new fee system that would charge developers considerably more for the transportation and transit improvements needed to support new construction.
Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the new agreement at Wednesday's commission meeting.
Last month, commissioners balked at Duke’s contribution and delayed a vote on the agreement. Commissioner Stacy White called it “egregious” and Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked the county attorney if there was a way to fight it.
Prior to 2009, Duke would have been required to construct the widening and in return would have received a credit that could be used in the future to pay for impact fees that are charged for each development. However, Florida law changed, and counties are no longer allowed to force developers to make those kinds of improvements. Instead, the county must pay for it and the builder is charged a “proportional share” of the cost based on the increase in traffic the development causes.
Duke’s proposed development proceeded the 2009 change in state law, however, construction had not begun. As it is, Duke argued the county should amend the agreement to meet the current law. If the county tried to fight it, Duke’s attorney, Ronald Christaldi, said the development would not proceed.