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Developers seek to build cultural center and retail hub in Thonotosassa

THONOTOSASSA — Developers presented a plan to a county land-use hearing officer earlier this week that could transform what has for years been a quiet rural area into a bustling retail center.

Located on U.S. 301 just south of Williams Road, a vacant 8-acre parcel could soon become a community center and mixed-use retail project.

The land was previously zoned for an 80,000-square-foot office and warehouse building. The developer would like to expand the uses of the land.

"They are proposing a mix of retail, office, restaurants, banquet halls, wedding chapel, community center, accessory theater, all of which are intended to serve members of the Indian community as well as the public at large," said Michael Horner, who represents US 301 & Williams LLC, the company that seeks to develop the project.

The owners of the property are Dr. Kozhimala John, an internist, and his wife Mary. Both are prominent members of the South Asian community in Zephyrhills.

"He's been looking around for a number of years for a place that he could actually provide some community-type organization for the Indian community," Horner said. "This is the most appropriate location he's found."

The Johns bought the property several years ago as a business venture for their family said Robert John, the couple's son. The land has a market value of $598,000, according to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's records. The couple's company, US 301 & Williams LLC, took out a $780,000 mortgage in 2007, according to court records.

The project, massive in its scope, has not been universally welcomed. "There was some opposition from the neighbors in the rear at first," John said. "However it was a noise issue they were concerned about."

Several property owners in the area declined to speak with the Times about the proposed development. No one showed up at the hearing Monday to oppose the project.

David Hey of the Planning Commission staff suggested that developers make sure their plan calls for limited access to Williams Road as there are residential properties close to the site.

Hillsborough County commissioners are scheduled to make the final decision about the rezoning when they meet on Oct. 13.

Times staff writer Chandra Broadwater contributed to this report. Althea Savage can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

Developers seek to build cultural center and retail hub in Thonotosassa 08/27/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:30am]
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