Over the past year, northern Hillsborough county and southern Pasco county witnessed consistent retail growth and expansion.
The once vacant land surrounding the Tampa Premium Outlets continues to add stores and restaurants, and in Hillsborough County, many large plazas with vacancies saw renewal with the addition of new businesses.
Restaurants dominated the weekly “Everybody’s Business” column, with 32 articles written about new eateries. However, there was also a trend towards fitness and health with 13 articles written.
Areas such as Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel and Lutz attracted the most national franchises.
“We view Carrollwood as the area where you can live, work and play,” said Barbara Sekely, Carrollwood Business Association (CABA) President. “You’re right in central Tampa.”
CoreLife Eatery and Define Body & Mind opened their first Florida locations in Carrollwood, following in the footsteps of Clean Juice. In 2017, Clean Juice first entered the Florida market in Carrollwood and has since expanded with locations in South Tampa and at The Shops at Wiregrass which opened this month.
Though they already had a Florida presence, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Club Pilates also chose Carrollwood to make their debut in the Tampa Bay area in 2017. Similar to Clean Juice, both franchises have expanded to South Tampa and The Shops at Wiregrass.
“The demograhics of the location are just a really good testing ground for business to see how their product or service or strategy is going to work,” Sekely said.
Along the State Road 54/State Road 56 corridor, new restaurants, retail, hotels and housing communities continue to pop up. Big name restaurants such as Chuy’s, Bahama Breeze, Mellow Mushroom and MOD Pizza opened near the Tampa Premium Outlets, adding to the ever expanding mix of eateries.
While residents have plenty of dining options, they also have a wide range of fitness choices. This past year saw the opening of gyms, stroller fit classes and yoga and martial arts studios.
Newcomers F45 Training opened in Land O’Lakes, as well as Retro Fitness, Green Locus Yoga and Fit Elements in Citrus Park. LA Fitness and You Fit, both located on W Hillsborough Ave, expanded and remodeled.
Planet Fitness is the latest addition to the workout scene, with a brand new location on Bearss Ave. It’s injecting life into an aging plaza, and will soon be joined by Bravo Supermarket which is currently under construction.
While many areas saw growth, Westchase’s West Park Village Town Center continues to struggle to fill vacancies. This year saw the closing of the Olive Tree and Starbucks, both of which relocated. Westchase residents are still mourning the loss of their beloved Starbucks which was a community gathering spot that locals could walk or bike to.
Not far away on Countryway Boulevard, two new restaurants opened this year, bringing healthy options and filling vacancies. SoFresh opened near Publix, and Grain & Berry Cafe took over the space formerly occupied by Five Guys.
On W Waters Ave near the Veterans Expressway, Laser Ops Extreme Gaming Arcade remodeled the large, empty space formerly occupied by the Hillsborough County Tax Collectors office. In Bayport Commons, Gander Outdoors, Navigate Chiropractic and Earl of Sandwich opened, filling empty space in the busy shopping plaza.
A common theme among businesses that opened over the past year is membership in local Chambers of Commerce. These organizations help support both big and small businesses through networking and community events.
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce held Oktoberfest, the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce hosted Taste of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel and Taste of Carrollwood was presented by CABA. These large scale, public events were a venue for restaurants, as well as other businesses, to gain exposure to thousands of people.
“We’re able to help those young business owners connect up in the community,” said Sekely.
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