RUSKIN — The cows, citrus and tomato farms are long since gone near the intersection of Interstate 75 and State Road 674.
In its place, the South Shore Corporate Park sits and waits for an economic boon.
Some real estate experts say that boon is just around the corner for the park.
With a relatively new education center nearby, featuring Lennard High School and a flourishing Hillsborough Community College SouthShore campus, and new home construction by Lennar under way near 19th Avenue, the corporate park appears well situated for future growth.
Of course, the growth has yet to occur, but owner Ryan Companies Tampa remain hopeful.
"Were enthusiastic about an economic rebound so we're aggressively working to get clients down here under the market conditions that prevail," says Brian Smith, senior preconstruction project manager for Ryan.
"It's a great location for any business that needs good access off the ports to the interstate system like freight forwarders distributing to the west coast of Florida."
Many anticipated the growth coming sooner.
The original plan for the 1,000-acre development, on land owned by the Dickman agricultural family, called for a mix of light industrial, commercial and office space as well as 2,000 residential homes (townhomes and single-family homes), a four-acre hotel site, a county government center and a new regional sheriff's office.
Ryan bought 2.4 million square feet, and in 2007, before the recession and the collapse of the housing market, the company built a 90,000-square-foot warehouse-type building.
Today, the warehouse sits idle and none of the other proposed projects have materialized — yet. But Ryan is prepared to redesign and retrofit the existing vacant building.
"Very few logistical sites exist in the Tampa Bay area that are shovel ready for the industrial world," says Patrick Kelly, president of Tampa-based Redstone Commercial LLC, the new commercial broker for the corporate park recently hired by Ryan.
"A year ago, there was hardly any activity in the industrial distribution market, but now companies that produce and package nonperishable goods and third-party haulers are ready to consolidate their routes, and we're seeing a new trend where they haul closer to their warehouses and ports."
Redstone reportedly is in serious talks with a potential client for the Ryan to build a 400,000-square-foot office suit behind the vacant spec building.
The residential component also is showing signs of new life. Lennar Homes is building a single-family community called Hawks Point Estates just north of the corporate park and the education hub along 24th Street and 19th Avenue in Ruskin.
"South county is where the growth and job generation is going to be in the future," said John Tipton, chief financial officer of Dickman Realty. "The residents will be aware of the corporate park and that's okay."
The park also could benefit Lennard and HCC SouthShore, according to college president Allen Witt.
Sixty acres of land was donated by the Dickman family to build the main campus, and now that HCC has grown beyond projections with more than 6,000 students, the college has purchased another 20 acres to eventually expand the campus.
The corporate park is uniquely designed to offer onsite training, mentoring and employment opportunities to both the high school and college students, and Witt says he's ready, willing, and able to make that happen.
"Our Corporate and Continuing Education Division is ready in a heartbeat to set up customized training programs with the park, and we're set to go," Witt said. "I can soon hear them saying this is a wonderful thing we started."
Kathryn Moschella can be reached at [email protected] Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.