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Oldsmar officials look to Sugar Land, Texas, for ideas

OLDSMAR — This city's elected officials and a couple of key employees are taking a sweet, one-day trip Monday.

Their destination? Sugar Land, Texas, about 800 miles as the jet flies.

Their goal?

To check out Sugar Land Town Square and see if an almost identical concept would work in downtown Oldsmar.

Sugar Land's planned development district was created in 1998 to combine commercial services, retail, office, government and residential components in one district in a largely suburban area.

Still in the planning stages, the Olds Square project may borrow the concept, creating the same type of mixed-use development on several acres of mostly city-owned land on State Street.

The project is expected to cost about $100-million, Mayor Jim Ronecker said.

The cost to fly the mayor, all City Council members, the city manager and the planning and redevelopment director aboard Southwest Airlines is $1,872.50 City Clerk Lisa Lene said.

"We're not taking taxpayers' money to pay for this trip,'' Ronecker said.

The money is coming out of the Community Redevelopment Agency budget. The CRA collects and spends certain property taxes downtown.

While in Texas, the group will meet with the Sugar Land Town Square developer as well as city officials.

The Olds Square project would be a partnership between the city and JES Properties, the developer of the Oldsmar Galleria.

JES Properties suggested using the Sugar Land Town Square as a model for Olds Square.

The mayor said it's important that so many people from City Hall take the trip so they can see what's being proposed and because "anybody who is voting on it that doesn't go is at a disadvantage.''

What JES Properties has put forth for Oldsmar "is almost a mirror'' of Sugar Land Town Square, Ronecker said.

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Oldsmar officials look to Sugar Land, Texas, for ideas 08/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 8:22pm]
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