Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Discussion of Kass Circle revitalization plan is Wednesday in Spring Hill

Empty stores in Spring Hill Plaza have contributed to the decline of the Kass Circle area. The county used a grant to hire a professor from the Florida Center for Community Design & Research at University of South Florida to study ways to revive the area.


Empty stores in Spring Hill Plaza have contributed to the decline of the Kass Circle area. The county used a grant to hire a professor from the Florida Center for Community Design & Research at University of South Florida to study ways to revive the area.

SPRING HILL — When professor Trent Green looks at Spring Hill Plaza, he sees what he sees in a lot of Florida communities.

The plaza has been in decline, and with it the surrounding Kass Circle neighborhood. That is partially because the center was "never a place to come and spend time," Green says. "It's a common phenomenon.''

But Green, who has had help from dozens of local business people and residents, can envision a better future for the neighborhood.

The vision includes paths for pedestrians and bicycles, open green space, a safe pedestrian crossing on Spring Hill Drive, new kinds of businesses, heightened security and a place for people to gather for events.

The Kass Circle Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which began with a public workshop in February, is moving into its next phase.

Two months ago, more than 75 people dropped by a vacant storefront in the plaza to say what they thought the neighborhood needed. Captured in drawings, Post-it notes and lists, the ideas have been compiled by Green's Florida Center for Community Design & Research at the University of South Florida.

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, in the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library, Green will give a presentation on what changes and improvements that input has encouraged. He will present a draft plan for further discussion.

"What we've tried to do is translate (the suggestions) into concrete ideas and notions,'' Green said. "A lot of it is really broad-based ideas of what people would like to see there.''

The county obtained a $20,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for Green's study, and county planner Patricia McNeese said picking Kass Circle as the focus made sense. It was the first mixed-use, multifamily hub envisioned in the original Spring Hill master plan.

The plaza, Spring Hill's first shopping center, was built in 1967, and McNeese said she has heard for some time from residents that the area needs to be updated. Many have expressed concerns over the growing number of vacancies there.

"This shopping center is at a tipping point," Green said. "It could just go completely vacant because of the loss of tenants. At some point the property might even change hands.''

The key to bringing it back, he said, is to transform it into something unlike newer plazas along roadways such as U.S. 19, State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard.

Part of that comes from buy-in by the private sector, Green said, but "much of what we're proposing is going to require some investment on the part of the county."

For example, Spring Hill Drive is a county road, and one hope voiced over and over by residents is that it can be made safe for pedestrians. Some way to calm traffic is needed there, Green said.

Safety in general was a common theme voiced by those attending the earlier meeting. Some in the audience questioned why there was no one from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office in attendance. Since then, McNeese said, she has been in contact with a lieutenant who patrols the area, and he has expressed interest in participating in the revitalization project.

At the end of the initial meeting, Green urged participants to organize so they could support a plan as it evolves. The final report on the plan is set to go to the County Commission in late May.

That means funding for some of the public portions could be considered in the county's 2014-15 budget, officials have said.

Cynthia Oakes was one of the local business people who gave input and urged people to come meet with her so that they could coordinate their support. But she said last week that only one person had come to see her.

Still, she said it was good to see someone listening to the community.

"A lot of people had a lot to say,'' Oakes said.

"I'm very glad that I stopped by and had some input,'' said Heather Olejniczak of nearby Spring Hill Nutrition.

Olejniczak said she wishes more younger people, including residents in the apartments near the plaza, would have attended to offer suggestions. And she believes that more sharing of information on social media might have produced a more representative mix of ideas. But she said she is excited about what the project could mean for the future of the Kass Circle community.

"It really is an amazing opportunity to have a say in what should be happening in our area,'' Olejniczak said.

Doug Brainard came to the earlier meeting to see what it was all about and left thinking something good could come of the planning process. He plans to return for Wednesday's follow-up meeting at the library.

"I've seen a lot of change, and not all of it for the good,'' said Brainard, a 40-year Spring Hill resident. "I'm encouraged to see them trying to stop the downhill slide of that area.''

While Brainard believes the county should have done more to keep up the neighborhood over the years, he says the latest effort holds promise.

"It really feels like an opportunity to have a real community center for our area,'' he said, "because we really don't have anything.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

>>fast facts

Meeting to explore Kass Circle ideas

A second public meeting of the Kass Circle Neighborhood Revitalization Project is scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. Preliminary ideas for community improvements will be presented and discussed. To review the plans, go to

Discussion of Kass Circle revitalization plan is Wednesday in Spring Hill 04/17/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2014 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.