WESLEY CHAPEL — A national data group has named this 'burb of Tampa one of eight fastest-growing areas in the United States.
The Gadberry Group, based in Little Rock, Ark., ranked Wesley Chapel fourth on its list of "8 in 2008" according to a company news release.
The group, which says it provides information for the world's top retail brands, published the list as a follow up to its list of the top seven last year. Wesley Chapel did not make that list.
The group evaluated 17,000 census locations, using its own data products. The selection criteria and rankings included variables such as percent change and absolute change in number of households, and the presence of census blocks that went from fewer than 10 households in 2000 to more than 100 households in 2008. The analysis considered the total growth from 2000 to 2008 as well as the amount of the total growth that occurred from 2007 to 2008.
It found that the number of Wesley Chapel households grew from 11,334 in 2000 to 28,576 in 2008, or 152 percent. Wesley Chapel had the largest growth in seasonal residences of all eight places with growth of 80 percent — from 596 to 1,075.
Wesley Chapel had the second-largest growth in average household income, increasing from $77,474 in 2000 to $102,450. Wesley Chapel also captured the second position for average household net worth at $573,038. The analysis also included information on ethnicity and age. Wesley Chapel's median age dropped from 36.4 years to 34.8 years since 2000, according to the study.
The news comes as Pasco's latest overall housing numbers proved dismal, with only 1,111 new housing starts countywide in 2008, a 43 percent decline over 2007 and an 85 percent slide from the peak year of 2005.
But Wesley Chapel leaders say they aren't surprised at the good news and point to the fact that a brand new mall just opened here last year.
"This puts a spotlight on Wesley Chapel for people who don't know who we are or where we are," said Cindy Fleming, president of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. "It's an opportunity for us. When the economy picks up, and it will even though we don't know when, this area will be primed for growth."