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Delayed Cypress Creek mall still plans to move forward

LAND O'LAKES — It's all systems go.

That's what developers and real estate agents are saying when it comes to Cypress Creek Town Center properties on State Road 56 just west of Interstate 75, including one tract slated for an outdoor mall.

Signs that went up this week on the northern tract said simply "available" and listed the name Brightwork Real Estate as the agency, leading to rumors the property was for sale. A couple of months ago, cows were also seen grazing on the site, which was set to feature big box stores and restaurants.

Owner John "Hi" Sierra couldn't be reached, but an executive with the south Tampa real estate firm confirmed the property was not on the market. The word "available" on the sign referred to leases.

"We are representing Mr. Sierra and are working on procuring tenants," Brightwork Real Estate partner Brad Douglas said.

He admitted a sour economy — the Tampa Bay area's unemployment rate is now 10.2 percent — is making the job more difficult.

"It's quiet," he said.

Also still quiet is the southern tract, where Cleveland-based Jacobs Group plans to build an outdoor mall. Construction halted on the Cypress Creek Town Center mall last year when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended the development permit after heavy rains sent muddy water into the Cypress Creek, a federally protected waterway that feeds Hillsborough County's drinking water supply. The Sierra Club has sued the Army Corps for granting a permit.

However, mall representatives said Friday that nothing has changed.

"It's just as viable today as it's always been," said Deanne Roberts, a spokeswoman for the project. "It's a great location. It has great access."

She reiterated that the developers had paid to widen State Road 54 from four to six lanes in the area.

"We're just waiting on our permit," she said.

The mall had has a tough time when it comes to the big box market.

Two tenants, Linens N Things and Circuit City, went out of business. Another possible store, Justice for Girls, ended up opening a location at rival the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.

Tracy Hurst, a biologist with the Army Corps, said nothing had changed.

"We are still working to resolve the enforcement case and evaluating our option to reinstate, modify or revoke the permit," she said.

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

Delayed Cypress Creek mall still plans to move forward 03/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 8:19pm]
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