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Offices may go up in place of homes

The saga of Somerset may be nearing an end.

Somerset, once slated to become another micro-subdivision, foundered when only two homes were built in the brick-walled enclave off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

But now a group of local professionals are close to closing a deal to buy the property where they plan to build an office park.

Joseph P. Caetano, owner of the Bostonian Hair Studios and Day Spa, two physicians and a restaurant owner have formed a partnership and are in the process of buying the property.

Caetano made the announcement at last week's Tampa Palms Community Development District meeting.

"Our vision is to have doctors, dentists and lawyers in there in a professional capacity," said Caetano, who brought along photos of an office park on Fletcher Avenue that the partners hope to replicate.

That office park consists of offices that look like single-family homes.

"We want something that's homogeneous to the area," Caetano said. "Not intrusive but something that's professional."

In addition to Caetano, the partnership includes family practice physician Colin Beach, dentist Louis Cerillo and Jane Theriault, the owner of the Boston Cooker.

Pam Barrett, the real estate agent representing Somerset's owners, pro football players Lawrence Dawsey and Terrell Buckley, said she fielded several offers for the property, but that Caetano's group wanted the land to serve the community.

The group plans to seek rezoning by mid-October, and hopes to have an artist's rendering of the complex ready before the next Community Development District meeting.

"The lots are there, the streets are in, the lighting is in place," Caetano said. "We won't have to deviate from the (development of regional impact) at all in building this. We just need a rezoning."

Community Development District member Ed Copeland wasn't convinced it will be that easy.

"That DRI was for residential use," Copeland said. "Will this require a new one? That's a question we need answered."

District chairman Mark Fitzpatrick was concerned that Area I residents may try to block the rezoning, as they did when previous owners wanted to build a Walgreen's drug store on the site.

But Caetano said they're going for totally different zoning than the commercial status needed to bring in a Walgreens. Also, he promises the place will be in character with Tampa Palms and doesn't expect opposition.

"I would say by the first of the year we'll be ready to break ground," Caetano said. He said the brick wall and signs would stay the same and they'll probably even keep the Somerset name, just adding the words "professional office park" or something similar.

The Community Development District will invite residents to September's meeting to give them feedback on the office park. By then, Caetano will be back with a clearer picture on what they want the place to look like.

After the presentation, Stuart Bean from the Tampa Palms Owners' Association (TPOA) board congratulated Caetano's group. "Mr. Caetano, I think you've taken an outstanding creative approach to that property," Bean said. "I encourage to come to the TPOA board with your ideas."