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Epperson to add retailing at Crystal Lagoon in Wesley Chapel

Ryan Companies proposes grocery, retail stores and health club at neighborhood’s entrance

WESLEY CHAPEL — The connected city is about to connect to retail shopping and other services near the shore of the nation’s first Crystal Lagoon.

National developer Ryan Companies plans a grocery, six retail stores and a health club/fitness center at the corner of Overpass and Curley roads at the entrance to Metro Development Group’s Epperson neighborhood, according to preliminary plans filed with Pasco County.

The plan does not identify the potential businesses, but Greg Singleton, Metro Development Group president, said his company was "taking steps to assign this new area to tenants and partners who contribute to the live-work-play model for the 21st century.''

The proposed development’s conceptual plan shows the health club abutting the eastern edge of the Crystal Lagoon, a 7.5-acre, man-made lake filled with clear, purified water. The lagoon is the centerpiece amenity in Epperson, the initial neighborhood in what Metro Development Group calls the connected city corridor — the nation’s first gigabit community built from the ground up.

The corridor, actually a government-designated planning district, encompasses 7,800 acres projected to be home to 96,000 people, 66,000 jobs and 37,000 homes if the 50-year forecasts are accurate. Metro Development Group owns 35 percent of the land in the corridor. The company plans to rebrand the entire area, including Epperson and the larger Mirada development to the north, as Connected City in the near future.

Commercial development is poised to begin at Epperson, the planned 2,000-home neighborhood in Wesley Chapel from Metro Development Group that is home to the nation's first Crystal Lagoon.
Commercial development is poised to begin at Epperson, the planned 2,000-home neighborhood in Wesley Chapel from Metro Development Group that is home to the nation's first Crystal Lagoon. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Planned for 2,000 homes, Epperson has sold approximately 650 houses so far. Now commercial development is poised to join the residential building, though Singleton said the proposal, including whether the property would be sold or leased, is preliminary.

"The property is slated to become part of an expansive common area serving those living and working in the soon-to-be-named Connected City,'' Singleton said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "Metro is in early talks with various, exciting potential end users and tenants. However, since the project is still in its preliminary stages, it has not yet been determined if the commercial and retail parcels will be sold outright to end users or built to suit.''

The commercial development is proposed on more than 20 acres at the northwest corner of Curley and Overpass roads, about 3 miles north of State Road 54. The land is owned by Metro Development Group’s affiliate, Epperson Ranch LLC. The land had been designated for mix-use office, commercial, retail, dining, healthcare and other uses, Singleton said.

Ryan Companies is based in Minneapolis. Its Tampa Bay area projects have included a 57,000-square-foot medical office building in Brandon, a 165-unit senior living complex in Citrus Hills in Citrus County and Class A office buildings in Tampa and Lithia, according to the company’s website.

"We know this area is important to the community as it will provide close access to the facilities that ignite new jobs, inspire world-class healthcare and deliver modern conveniences like office flex-spaces, grocers, restaurants, shops and more,'' Doug Dieck, president of Ryan Companies’ Southeast region, said about accepting Metro’s invitation to partner on the Epperson commercial development.

The proposed development is unrelated to the current land grading going on at the southwest corner of Overpass and Curley roads. Singleton said development plans for that site could be finalized in early 2020.