1. Business

Outdoor mall, 1,000 homes proposed for Mitchell Ranch in Trinity

Published Mar. 5, 2014

TRINITY — A 333-acre development that will include an outdoor mall, movie theater, bike and walking trails, along with nearly 1,000 homes, has been proposed at one of Pasco County's main growth hubs.

The project would be built at the southwest corner of State Road 54 and Little Road, on land owned by the pioneer Mitchell family, who raised cattle there for generations. Kitson & Partners has a contract on the property but has not closed, company vice president Debra Dremann said.

"It basically starts at Mitchell High School and goes all the way up to State Road 54," said Clarke Hobby, the land use attorney for the project.

The developers are scheduled to have an initial meeting with Pasco County officials on March 17. A more detailed site plan will be submitted later.

Kitson representatives said the property's proximity to the Medical Center of Trinity, the Pasco YMCA, schools and existing neighborhoods and shopping centers makes it an excellent location for its development, which is expected to include 900,000 square feet of commercial space, including the mall, big box stores and possibly medical offices.

"It's such a really wonderful piece of dirt," Dremann said. "We think it's one of the best sites in the county."

The property is situated in the county's "western hub," which requires "a pedestrian-friendly, human-scale environment," with a framework for "connectivity" and walkability according to county policies.

"That matches what we want to do," Dremann said. "We want to do what makes sense for the land."

Kitson has also pledged to maintain existing wetlands. The area would likely evolve into a more urban development as mass transit becomes available.

Residential areas will offer apartments, townhomes and single-family homes ranging in price from the low $200s to the mid $300s.

Dremann called the development, now known only as Mitchell 54 West, a "legacy project." She said the Mitchell family wanted to do something to benefit the greater good.

"Stewardship is the main factor," she said.

The land deal would close after the developers finish the permitting process. Dremann didn't want to give a specific date, saying regulatory processes can be unpredictable.

But J.D. Porter, whose family developed the 800,000-square-foot Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel and is currently in the middle of developing other residential and commercial areas, estimated it would take about two years to get permits and begin construction.

"I think the Mitchell family as a whole has done an incredible job really embracing the same kind of growth we at Wiregrass have been," Porter said. He noted that the new mall would be only minutes from the Pinellas County line and might lure shoppers from outside the county, just as Wiregrass attracts shoppers from Hillsborough. "It's a great opportunity to bring some business back from Pinellas to Pasco," he said.

Developers of the Trinity project say interest is running high among retailers but wouldn't name names. As for restaurants, they want "as many as we can fit in there," Dremann said.

"We want a mix, more of the sit-down eateries and hopefully coffee shops," she said. A separate neighborhood center may include more fast-food options.

Housing will be planned so that more dense development such as apartments will likely go closer to the mall. Single-family homes will be built farther out to blend with existing neighborhoods.

The developers expect to have planning meetings with current residents to find out what they might want in the development, company spokeswoman Lisa Hall said.

"You become much more popular if you are building what people are looking for," she said.

Hobby said the Mitchells were "very deliberate" in choosing a developer.

"They wanted somebody who would be responsible with the land," he said.

Syd Kitson, he said, fit the bill.

A former NFL player, Kitson played from 1980 to 1984 with the Green Bay Packers and briefly with the Dallas Cowboys before heading to real estate in his native New Jersey.