WESLEY CHAPEL — The developers of a 7.5-acre pool called a Crystal Lagoon first said they would break ground in late 2014. In April this year, they said construction would begin within a matter of weeks. And this week, Metro Development Group claimed that the work will start within the next month.
"It's imminent," said the company's president, Greg Singleton.
The lagoon is the main amenity for a $100 million, 1,500-home development called Epperson, located a couple of miles east of Interstate 75, between State Roads 52 and 54. Epperson is a piece of the larger Connected City district, an ultrafast Internet community that would be first of its kind in the U.S.
Singleton said the delay was due in part to changes in the design of the project involving the parking lots, beaches and the overall layout of the lagoon.
"It is a slow process," he said. "We're measuring twice and cutting once."
Now the plans are complete and the company has identified a general contractor and the contract should be finalized in a matter of days, Singleton said Wednesday.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud, approved environmental resource permit for phase one of the development on Oct. 5. Public documents show the application was submitted May 20 and approved on Oct. 5. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also gave the green light.
The Wesley Chapel lagoon was expected to be the first of its kind in the country. But further delays may cause it to lose that title. Another developer in the St. Augustine area is expected to break ground on a 14-acre lagoon this quarter, said Uri Man, chief executive of Crystal Lagoons U.S., the company behind the technology. A third, in Dallas, is slated to be dug out starting in March.
Crystal Lagoon was invented by a Chilean real estate developer who built out a 20-acre pool along the country's coastline in the mid-1990s.
The boomerang-shaped one in Tampa Bay will be the length of five football fields and hold 16 million gallons of water. It will be up to 8 feet deep. The project was originally criticized for considering using water pumped straight from the aquifer to fill the lagoon, raising sinkhole concerns from nearby residents. Metro Development therefore reversed its plan and currently intends to purchase water from the county utilities instead.
Pasco Assistant County utilities administrator Flip Mellinger said the lagoon will be filled at a rate of 300 or 400 gallons a minute over at least 30 days and cost Metro just over $50,000.
Singleton added, however, that the developer is reserving the right to find another water source.
Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected] Follow @KnotheA.