Monday, September 24, 2018
Business

Two new hotels to join Pasco’s growing hospitality industry

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County’s hotel-construction boom is migrating westward.

Much of the recent growth in the hospitality industry has been centered in Wesley Chapel and Lutz, near the Florida Hospital Center Ice complex, but now two new hotels are planned on the west side of the county.

Last week, Pasco County approved preliminary construction plans for a three-story, 75,000-square-foot hotel in the Trinity Lakes Crossing commercial development between State Road 54 and Trinity Boulevard. The property, owned by Trinity developers Adam Smith Enterprises, is targeted for a Hampton Inn, according to marketing maps compiled by the commercial division of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

Still awaiting county approval is a proposed four-story, 123-room WoodSpring Suites on the west side of U.S. 19, north of State Road 52. Bayonet Point Holdings and the Jiba Family Limited Partnership submitted the preliminary construction plans.

The companies filed their plans with the county in May. The project, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times in 2017, is the first phase of a planned commercial subdivision that would include four outparcels along U.S. 19. Future phases on the west side of the complex could include a second hotel and 50,000-square-feet of retail space.

The vacant property, south of the U.S. 19 intersection with Beacon Woods Drive, once was part of a development proposed in the 1970s, called Bayonet Point Shopping mall. Nine years ago, the owners sought to change the commercial entitlements to allow for multi-family housing, a hotel and offices.

The Bayonet Point project is unrelated to a planned WoodSpring Suites proposed on Cypress Ridge Boulevard, across the street from the ice complex and east of Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel. WoodSpring Suites, franchised by Choice Hotels International Inc., is a fast-growing chain of extended-stay hotels.

Bayonet Point Holdings, owned by businessman and hotelier Vijay Patel, obtained the property in a 2016 foreclosure sale. Another of Patel’s companies, Dhruv Management, lists 41 hotels in its portfolio, including the Holiday Inn Express that opened next door to the Florida Hospital Center Ice complex last year.

"Obviously, we’re excited about it,’’ said Commissioner Mike Moore, chairman of the Pasco Tourist Development Council. "Some of those visitors in the past have had to stay outside the county in Hillsborough and Pinellas, which means they spend more money in those areas. We’re excited people will be able to stay here when they’re on vacations.’’

Since the start of 2017, four new hotels opened along a 10-mile stretch of the State Road 54/56 corridor between the ice center and the Suncoast Parkway. Hotels also are under construction and nearing completion at the Bexley development in Land O’ Lakes, at Silver Maple Parkway and SR 56 in Wesley Chapel, and in Wiregrass Ranch near the county’s indoor sports center, projected to open late next year.

Three more hotels are planned in Wesley Chapel, including two near the State Road 54 and I-75 exit, in addition to the 123-room WoodSpring Suites Cypress Creek proposed by Gold Coast Premier Properties of Miami. The county’s $44 million indoor sports center also will include a 128-room Residence Inn by Marriott from Mainsail Development Group.

Pasco County has 35 hotels with just less than 3,000 rooms, and the average nightly rate for a standard room is $95, according to the county’s tourism office, VisitPasco. For the first six months of 2018, visitors booked more than 487,000 room nights, for a countywide occupancy rate of 74.3 percent. That is an increase of 2.9 percent over a year ago.

Moore said the county’s effort to land a full scalloping-harvesting season in 2020, after 10-day trial seasons this year and in 2019, also could fuel growth in west Pasco’s hospitality industry.

"That’s the scuttlebutt,’’ he said, "I would expect that to happen.’’

Reach C.T. Bowen at [email protected] or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2

RELATED: Hotel could jumpstart U.S. 19 development.

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