SPRING HILL — Nearly 50 years ago, Spring Hill Plaza became the first shopping center in the new, sparsely populated Spring Hill development in western Hernando County.
Since then, the community has grown tremendously — and changed. Now, county planners, in conjunction with the University of South Florida, are asking the community for help with a makeover of the area around the plaza, the Kass Circle neighborhood.
Residents, business owners and other people interested in talking about the improvements are invited to a community design workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The workshop is slated for the plaza space last occupied by Paesano's Italian Bakery, 7421 Spring Hill Drive.
During the workshop, planners and representatives of USF's Center for Community Design and Research will seek ideas regarding what should be included as part of the Kass Circle Neighborhood Revitalization Project. The neighborhood was the first mixed residential, multifamily neighborhood laid out in the original Spring Hill master plan.
Officials say the revitalization is designed to generate a strategy for redeveloping the area into a safe, walkable and sustainable mixed-use district.
"Everything is on the table,'' said Hernando planner Patricia McNeese. "It may be that they want more of this type of business, sidewalks, more green space or architectural changes. Maybe they want a bus stop with a roof.''
The plaza and surrounding area already has a good mix of tenants, including a post office, a grocery store, an ice cream shop and a bookstore, McNeese noted.
After the meeting, the USF project team will incorporate the ideas into a conceptual design that will come back to the neighborhood for review and further input. The final master plan proposal will then be presented to the Hernando County Commission for consideration.
Ways to implement the plan also will be discussed, McNeese said.
The project is funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.