Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco hopes to cash in on 305-acre 'brownfield'

“Our biodiesel (production) is shut down now, but we want to bring it back up and increase capacity,” said Rodney Sutton, president of Agri-Source Fuels, a tenant in the business park, at left.

Times (2007)

“Our biodiesel (production) is shut down now, but we want to bring it back up and increase capacity,” said Rodney Sutton, president of Agri-Source Fuels, a tenant in the business park, at left.

DADE CITY — Shopping at trendy Ikea hardly brings to mind the term "brownfield."

Yet that's what the site of the furniture store in Ybor City was before developers turned it into a mecca for affordable bookcases and end tables in 2009.

Home to a cannery from 1936 until 1981, the location had been characterized by local media as a "gritty industrial site between the Port of Tampa and Ybor City," according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Now officials in Pasco hope to use the same state program to help revitalize a 305-acre area in and near the Dade City Business Center on U.S. 301, including a biodiesel plant that is seeking to expand and add as many as 20 jobs.

The program, administered through the DEP, would allow the area to receive a brownfield designation, qualifying for financial incentives and tax credits to help existing industries expand and attract new ones.

While the business park, for years the site of the Lykes Pasco orange juice plant, does not have contamination, the area can still qualify as a brownfield, officials said.

"You can have the perception of contamination," said Melanie Kendrick, a senior planner with Pasco County who is helping coordinate the effort with Dade City officials. The area encompasses both the city and county, so both governments must approve.

Dade City is set to take a vote on Tuesday, while Pasco County commissioners have set a vote for Nov. 16.

Upon designation, properties within a brownfield area may participate in economic incentives such as a job bonus refund or sales and use tax exemption for building materials used in a mixed-use project or housing project. If contamination is known or suspected, the local government may designate the area and identify the person responsible for brownfield site rehabilitation. That person would then negotiate with teh DEP.

Participation is voluntary, so businesses that might not want to be included can opt out.

So far no one has expressed opposition at any of the required public hearings.

"Our biodiesel (production) is shut down now, but we want to bring it back up and increase capacity," said Rodney Sutton, president of Agri-Source Fuels, a tenant in the business park. The plant, which converts chicken fat to diesel fuel, now is refining glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel. Depending on the grade, glycerin can be used in paint, resins and other plastics as well as soap and toothpaste. Sutton said the company is redeveloping a financial model that is "somewhat contingent" on brownfield designation. Company representatives were the ones who first approached officials with the request for brownfield designation.

"We need for (an expansion) to make economic sense," Sutton said, adding that the company hopes to reach its permitted capacity of 60 million gallons a year.

Other areas in the state have benefited greatly from the brownfield program.

Nearly all of Duval County is designated as a brownfield area. In addition, Clearwater and St. Petersburg have large areas that have been successful in attracting state and federal grants as a result of being declared brownfields.

Clearwater — the first state-designated brownfield area — has pulled in more than $4 million in state and federal grants. Some 70 private sector projects and 17 city-related projects have used brownfield grant funding in the city.

St. Petersburg's enterprise zone, which includes large portions of downtown and areas of Midtown, have been named brownfields.

Some of the benefits for a company include a job creation tax credit. If 20 percent of a project is affordable housing, the developer could receive a sales tax refund for the materials used on the affordable housing component.

Successful brownfield projects and enhanced economic incentives have encouraged local governments to designate more brownfield areas for revitalization. Pasco County has hired a Clearwater consultant to examine other areas for possible designation.

The presence of the program can encourage new companies to locate there.

"If a site is designated as a brownfield, a new developer never has to take on liability for any sins of the past," said John Walsh, vice president of the Pasco County Economic Development Council, a public-private partnership. It also helps preserve green space by allowing companies to build in areas that have already been developed rather than on new land.

In 2009, 10 local governments reported approval of resolutions designating 10 brownfield areas. During the first half of 2010, 11 local governments have designated 14 brownfield areas. So far 252 areas in 96 communities across the state have been designated as brownfields, according to the DEP.

The number of brownfield areas designated in 2009 was notably less than in recent years, according to the DEP's annual report on the program. However, designations in 2010 have already exceeded the number for 2009 as cash-strapped communities continue to look for ways to jump-start their economies.

"It's another tool in the toolbox," said County Commissioner Michael Cox. "A lot of companies look for properties with just that for the tax credits."

The locally designated areas encompass about 185,030 acres of both contaminated and uncontaminated property, including residential and viable business properties.

"It opens the area up for financial assistance they otherwise would not have," said County Commissioner Ted Schrader, whose district includes the Dade City Business Park. He said no contamination has been found yet but with a juice plant operating so many years with no regulation, "I wouldn't be surprised if they did have some contamination."

Schrader said the designation, along with other assets such as rail access, would make the area an attractive site for industry and bring much-needed jobs to east Pasco.

"It has a real opportunity to become a dry port," he said.


The state of 'brownfields'

Twenty municipalities and county governments approved local resolutions that designated 24 additional brownfield areas. With the additional six 2008 resolutions received in 2009, the total number of brownfield areas in Florida has increased to 252.

From January 2009 through June 2010, 2,336 new direct jobs, 3,392 new indirect jobs and nearly $387 million in new capital investment were attributable to the brownfield program.

Source, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Pasco hopes to cash in on 305-acre 'brownfield' 11/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 5, 2010 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you need to know for Thursday, May 25


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  2. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  3. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux


    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  4. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later


    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.
  5. Flower boxes on Fort Harrison in Clearwater to go, traffic pattern to stay


    I travel Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater often and I've noticed that the travel lanes have been rerouted to allow for what looks like flower boxes that have been painted by children. There are also a few spaces that push the travel lane to the center that have no boxes. Is this a permanent travel lane now? It …