Thursday, August 16, 2018
Business

Plan would turn former Elfers grove into residential, commercial development

ELFERS — Pasco County officials are hoping a onetime grove near the Anclote River is about to be fruitful again.

The 216 acres at the corner of State Road 54 and Madison Street near New Port Richey — land that continued to produce citrus even after the area surrounding it urbanized decades earlier — is considered a key in-fill development site in western Pasco. Last week, commissioners approved plans to turn the former grove into a neighborhood of 425 single-family homes, plus commercial and office space and 46 acres of preserve along the edge of the river.

"This is going to be a game changer,'' said Matt Armstrong, executive planner for the county's long-range planning department.

The property, now filled with pine trees, sits among residential developments of the 1970s like Colonial Hills, Tanglewood Terrace and Virginia City and is adjacent to Anclote Elementary School. The community of Elfers, an actual incorporated city from 1925 to 1933, has roughly 14,000 residents but is an area that has been void of significant private investment for decades. The annual median household income is just a little more than $33,000, or 25 percent less than the county average. Meanwhile, the area just a few miles to the east has flourished after former ranch land was developed into Trinity.

"We're just thrilled to see somebody putting good money to use in the area, and we hope it lifts all boats,'' said attorney Clarke Hobby, who represents the landowner, DCH Groves Inc., a Tampa company controlled by the family of the late citrus growers O.J. and Doris Harvey.

This isn't the first time the Harvey family has targeted the land for development. Eight years ago, the county authorized a change in its comprehensive plan to allow more than 1,000 residences, mostly apartments, plus commercial and light industrial space.

That plan drew objections from Pinellas County environmentalists, who feared the development could taint the Anclote River. Likewise, the city of Tarpons Springs urged Pasco to "ensure, at a minimum, that water quality is not degraded and ideally, that water quality is improved with this and future developments.''

Businessman Lux DeVoid, who lived in Holiday at the time and owned two vacant lots on the south side of the river, challenged state approval of the amended comprehensive plan. The sides settled, with the county agreeing to require extra river protections.

DeVoid, who now lives in Temple Terrace and owns the Mermaid Tavern in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood, said last week he was unaware the project was again proceeding.

"It's good to hear there's no industrial. I think that was the biggest concern of all because of the runoff,'' he said.

There has been no opposition this time around, with the only comment during a commission public hearing coming from Kelly Miller, president of the neighboring Colonial Hills Civic Association.

"They did a very, very remarkable job in bringing this new infrastructure to west Pasco,'' Miller told commissioners.

It also could open the door for eco-tourism and recreational possibilities because the preserved land along the river could become a county park. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said she hoped the county could someday acquire the property on the south side of the river, too, to create a kayak launching site and other public amenities.

Comments
This week in deals: Pub subs on sale, and the best savings at Publix, Winn-Dixie for Aug. 16-23

This week in deals: Pub subs on sale, and the best savings at Publix, Winn-Dixie for Aug. 16-23

I’m going start with it: Chicken tender Pub subs are on sale this week. It’s like a Florida holiday when Publix chicken tender subs are $6.99. Suddenly, offices across the Sunshine State are filled with the aroma of Buffalo sauce as everyone brings b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gander Outdoors rebounds under new ownership

Gander Outdoors rebounds under new ownership

The Gander sign is back up at Bayport Commons on W Hillsborough Ave. The 30,000 square foot space that once housed Gander Mountain has now reopened as Gander Outdoors.Marucus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s The Profit, bought Gander Mountain assets in bankru...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Finney’s Tiger-Rock Martial Arts moves to larger space

Finney’s Tiger-Rock Martial Arts moves to larger space

TAMPA — For 13 years, Finney’s Tiger-Rock Martial Arts co-owners Troy and Nikki Finney have provided more than just Taekwondo instruction for their students. The husband and wife duo have created a supportive, family environment that teaches valuable...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Walmart shares jump as earnings beat expectations

Walmart shares jump as earnings beat expectations

Update: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 325 points, or 1.3 percent, early Thursday, driven by a jump in Walmart’s stock.Walmart’s aggressive push into groceries helped same-store sales in the United States grow more in the last quarter than t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa International Airport debuts new and improved Cigar City Brewery

Tampa International Airport debuts new and improved Cigar City Brewery

When Tampa International Airport officials decided which restaurants would go and which would stay, Cigar City Brewing made a convincing case it needed to stay in the airport’s massive billion dollar redevelopment plan. The local brewery has been imp...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa gets its own Bodega in Seminole Heights

Tampa gets its own Bodega in Seminole Heights

St. Petersburg eatery Bodega, has built a reputation for its Latin street food and now the fast-casual concept has expanded to a second location in Seminole Heights.Its name Bodega, which means grocery in Spanish, represents the owners, George and De...
Updated: 3 hours ago
In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

As the Aug. 28 primary election approaches, three Republicans are battling to represent a Pinellas County Commission district that hasn’t witnessed a competitive contest for more than 15 years.State Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole and Kathleen Peters o...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Deveron Gibbons’ promise of 20 jobs in jeopardy as development plans languish

Deveron Gibbons’ promise of 20 jobs in jeopardy as development plans languish

ST. PETERSBURG — Former mayoral candidate Deveron Gibbons’ plans to develop two acres across the street from Tangerine Plaza — where two supermarkets failed — could be in trouble. His vision for the property at 2100 18th Ave....
Updated: 7 hours ago
Want to win a Florida liquor license?  Entry period starts Monday

Want to win a Florida liquor license? Entry period starts Monday

Bo Butler was in the dentist’s chair a few months ago when the hygienist casually mentioned that her husband had won a Florida liquor license."As soon as she said, ‘Yeah, we can sell it for upwards of $300,000,’ it kind of piqued my interest," Butle...
Published: 08/16/18
Titanic artifact salvager sued for failing to repay $25,000 loan

Titanic artifact salvager sued for failing to repay $25,000 loan

Longtime underwater artifact salvager G. Michael Harris is again in the public eye, but this time not for treasure. Harris, a Belleair resident involved in recovering artifacts from the famous Titanic shipwreck in the early 2000s, is currently being ...
Published: 08/16/18