WESLEY CHAPEL — Target Corp., once committed as an anchor for the long-delayed Cypress Creek Town Center, has pulled out of the project.
Property records show the Minneapolis retail giant sold its 16 acres on the south side of State Road 56 to Cypress TP Holdings LLC, a company created by the developers. The retailer sold it back last month for $4.5 million, which was $750,000 less than it paid for it two years ago.
The departure is a blow to Cypress Creek Town Center, which already lost possible tenants Linens 'n Things and Circuit City to bankruptcy. Mired in legal battles, environmental challenges and the sluggish economy, developers have asked for a 10-year extension on their construction deadline to 2021.
County planners gave the developers a victory on Thursday by granting that request and waiving the requirement for a new traffic analysis.
William Fullington, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based Richard Jacobs Group, said the developer bought back the land after Target scaled back its expansion plans nationwide. The area already has three SuperTarget stores: one at County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, another at County Line Road and Dale Mabry Highway and a third on State Road 54 at the Suncoast Parkway.
"This allowed us the flexibility of leasing or selling the parcel to other prospective retailers," Fullington said.
Target representatives could not be reached Thursday.
The developers have previously said the long recession and 18-month delay caused by legal challenges have required them to reconsider their tenant lineup and start again from scratch. Approved by county commissioners in 2004, the 510-acre site was to have included 1 million square feet of stores as well as space for offices and hotels.
Fullington wouldn't comment on other possible tenants, including Kohl's, another that had been previously announced. Representatives from the Illinois-based chain did not return calls Thursday.
"We … are not prepared to discuss such plans publicly until we can be certain that what we announce is indeed what will occur," Fullington said. He reiterated that the Jacobs Group remains "very committed" to the project.
The mall promises a 2011 opening date on its Web site. But the Corps of Engineers halted work on the site and suspended the developers' permit after muddy water flowed into Cypress Creek, a federally protected waterway that feeds into Hillsborough County's drinking water supply.
The corps reinstated the permit Sept. 4 after the developers agreed to a $297,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act and made minor changes to the site.
The Sierra Club has sued the corps over its decision to issue the permit, and Kearney Construction LLC, which did earth work for the mall and later filed for bankruptcy, has sued the developers over $1.6 million it says it is owed. The developers have countersued and blame Kearney for muddying the water. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club filed an amended complaint, saying the site changes developers made were merely cosmetic and did not merit reinstatement of the permit.
Lisa Buie can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4604.