WESLEY CHAPEL — The Shops at Wiregrass announced 42 tenants Wednesday as crews broke ground on what will be its main artery, the State Road 56 extension.
"These tenants will be excellent additions to anchor stores Dillard's, Macy's and JCPenney. The Shops at Wiregrass will offer today's shopper the lifestyle-center experience with the convenience of department store shopping and the unique mix of small retailer shopping," said Jim Richardson of Forest City Development.
He said the company expects to announce more stores before the grand opening, set for between Oct. 15 to 30, the same time that the first phase of the road extension is set to be completed. That phase will connect Mansfield Boulevard in Meadow Pointe II to the main highway, giving commuters there another route besides County Line Road. The entire road, which will eventually reach Meadow Pointe Boulevard, is slated to be finished in 18 months. The $24-million, 3-mile extension will be paid for by developers of Wiregrass Ranch and Meadow Pointe.
Wednesday, a group of county commissioners, ambassadors for the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and members of the Porter family, who owned the land, attended the ceremony, which was held in a tent and featured table linens, fresh fruit and yogurt parfaits. Each attendee received a small box with a chocolate shovel inside.
One by one, officials took the lectern to praise the road and the progress it will bring and to express relief after three years of construction delays.
"I'd rather tangle with a team of wild horses than go through all we did to get the road built," Commissioner Pat Mulieri told the crowd.
Peter Hanzel, who has served as chairman of the Greater Wesley Chapel of Commerce, said an extended SR 56 will alleviate a clogged road system and improve everyone's quality of life.
"It will allow families to spend more time on family events and less time on clogged roads," he said.
The list includes most stores that were named in plans submitted to the county in August. But some names on the initial list were missing, including Apple, Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, Ann Taylor Loft and the Children's Place.
But Leslie Resnik of the public relations firm handling the Wiregrass account said the company announced only what is "signed, sealed and delivered," and that a store's absence from the initial list does not necessarily mean it won't be locating at Wiregrass.
Wiregrass Ranch is a 5,022-acre property owned by the Porter family since 1940. It is under development as a master-planned community and will include retail, residential, civic, hospital, educational, office and park uses. Total build out is anticipated over 10-years.
The Shops at Wiregrass is developed by Forest City Commercial Development and the Goodman Co. Developers are billing it as a pedestrian-friendly, outdoor lifestyle village with curved tree-lined streets, open-air cafes and pocket parks that invite lingering and relaxation.
Lisa Buie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4604.