Businesses on Thonotosassa Road say they might as well be invisible because they can be nearly impossible to find.
GPS devices can send motorists in the wrong direction, and looking for an address can have drivers heading up one block and down the next.
"I had a lady come in the other day. She had to turn her GPS off because it kept trying to reset," said Jessica Vela, a receptionist at Family Medical Specialists of Florida at 1703 Thonotosassa Road. "It couldn't find the address."
The problem is Thonotosassa isn't contiguous. It ends at Baker Street and picks back up again a block later at Mobley Street.
Motorists heading to any of the dozen businesses between Mobley and Reynolds streets can find themselves driving in circles. Those new to the area have the most trouble.
"We have two to three new patients a day and basically I have to give directions every time," said Vela.
City officials heard the complaints for years but offered little more than sympathy.
Over the next two weeks, business owners will be asked to offer their suggestions to rename the half-mile stretch of Thonotosassa between Mobley and Dort Street (just west of Reynolds).
The effort announced Monday by the City Commission followed a survey last fall by Assistant City Manager Michael Karr that showed most business owners in the east of Mobley want the stretch of road renamed.
Complaints have surfaced for years at City Hall but never enough to push elected officials to spring into action.
This past summer, several business owners approached Commissioner Bill Dodson who took their complaints to City Manager Greg Horwedel.
Horwedel briefed the commission, which then requested a survey of property owners along Thonotosassa to gauge whether renaming any part of the highway would help.
While many respondents west of Mobley were tepid about the renaming idea, seven of the 12 owners between Mobley and Dort streets embraced it. The remaining five didn't respond to the survey.
The name change won't happen over night.
Horwedel said officials need time to comb through the suggested names and get approvals from the state and county, as well as fire-rescue officials. That could take until May. After that, business owners will need time to change their stationery and contact vendors and clients, he said.
The change would likely take effect Jan. 1, 2014, Horwedel said.
So far officials haven't suggested any possible names for the half-mile of Thonotosassa. Whatever they settle on, said Vela, they should pick one that's easy to say and spell.
"Whenever I say 'Thonotosassa Road' people are always saying, 'Huh? Can you say that again? Can you spell that for me?' " she said.
Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2454.