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Developer buys Behnke ranch property in Pasco

ODESSA — An international development company said it plans to break ground early next year on a 536-acre residential and commercial development on State Road 54.

The privately owned company, Hines, which has its U.S. headquarters in Houston, said the project will include 550 single-family homes, 200 townhouses and 300,000 square feet of stores.

Hundreds of multifamily units and another 530,000 square feet of office/light industrial space are planned as well. No date for the groundbreaking is set and the project hasn't yet been named. The $21 million sale of the former Behnke family ranch closed Nov. 12 and was announced Wednesday.

"It's one of the few large tracts remaining where we can create a true high-quality, signature mixed-use community," Hines managing director Lane Gardner said through a spokeswoman. "It's well located in the high-growth corridor with great access to multiple jobs centers."

The company said the project's zoning is complete and it's in the design and permitting stages. It has environmental approvals from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The project on the north side SR 54, west of the Suncoast Parkway, is the same location where the Behnke family had planned hundreds of houses a few years ago.

It's not clear why that project, known as Legacy, never moved forward after the family had the former ranch rezoned in 2007 to allow for the houses.

The project was mired by a lawsuit brought by patriarch Carl Behnke, a rancher, after a zoning dispute with Pasco County. He died in May 2007 at age 85 before the suit was settled.

Two years later, the project appeared to inch forward when the family had the property rezoned again, this time to allow mixed residential-commercial usage. Nothing more emerged until Wednesday when Hines announced the sale. The company, which said it will build the streets and other infrastructure, will sell lots to builders.

Hines has offices in 18 countries. It's primarily a real estate design and development company and has master-planned communities and other projects across the world. Among its Florida projects is the 308-unit multifamily Palencia Azure community in Carillon Park in St. Petersburg.

Rich Shopes can be reached at rshopes@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Developer buys Behnke ranch property in Pasco 11/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 11:04pm]
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