If you wonder how the Pasco County economy did for the decade, look no further than the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 56, where Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel come together.
The area was mostly empty fields through the first half of the 2010s, even though there were plenty of drawings and plans for a retail hub that had been expected to blossom years earlier.
Over the past four years, commerce replaced grazing cattle in what is known collectively as the Cypress Creek Town Center. To the south, the Tampa Premium Outlets mall started the commercial boom when it opened in 2015, and warehouse-sized retailers like Costco and At Home followed suit. On the north side of SR 56 came a bevy of food service establishments, a hote, and an Earth Fare grocery as one of the anchors to a strip center.
The construction dust continues with Aldi, Main Event Entertainment and a trio of Bloomin’ Brand restaurants among the projects underway as the year comes to a close.
All told, Pasco County issued 521 permits for new commercial construction in its 2019 fiscal year that ended Oct. 1.
The boom in Lutz/Wesley Chapel was duplicated in west Pasco with the opening of the Village at Mitchell Ranch bringing retailing to the former homestead of the Mitchell family at the corner of Little Road and State Road 54 in Trinity. Sprouts Farmers Market serves as one of the retail anchors, and the restaurants Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse recently filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to locate there.
But those restaurants grocers, and general merchandise stores wouldn’t be opening if they didn’t have customers to serve. The greatest measure of the nearby customer base is the proximity to house rooftops. In the 12-month period ending Oct. 1, Pasco County issued 4,005 construction permits for new single-family homes.
Lennar continued to be nearly omnipresent in Pasco County. Just after the year started, public records showed the home-building giant had acquired 1,443 acres in the Connerton development east of U.S. 41 to bookend its planned Angeline development. Angeline, formerly known as Project Arthur, is slated for the thousands of acres south of State Road 52 between the Suncoast Parkway and the CSX railroad tracks. The project, which includes a planned 800-acre business park, unveiled its first proposed occupant — an expansion of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.
Industrial recruiters stayed busy throughout the year with multiple project announcements, including:
- Phillips & Jordan, Inc., building a regional headquarters near San Antonio.
- Fleda Pharmaceuticals Corp., a new pharmaceutical manufacturer, which said it would create 30 jobs at a site in Odessa.
- JDR Investments, which purchased a vacant 67-acre site in Lacoochee from Columbia Grain and Ingredients Inc., with plans to turn it into a 25-acre precast concrete plant.
- Colwell Avenue Properties, which will build a pair of three-story office buildings, each totaling 60,000 square feet, along State Road 54 in Lutz.
- Encompass Health. a provider of patient rehabilitation, home health and hospice services, which is bringing its regional business office and 179 jobs to a planned 37,000-square-foot office and administrative building within the Bexley by Newland Communities on the north side of SR 54.
- Rooker Properties LLC, which said it will purchase approximately 99 acres owned by Pasco County’s Utilities Department and use a $3.7 million county incentive to build at least 400,000 square feet of industrial and office space. The project will be the largest-ever industrial space built on speculation in Pasco County, Rooker said.
Those aren’t the only things coming to Pasco County. By the end of the fiscal year, more than 1 million tourists had visited the county. They spent an estimated $462.6 million during their stays on hotels, restaurants, shopping, entertainment and attractions, according to a visitor-tracking study by the Tallahassee firm Downs & St. Germain.
It estimated the tourism industry’s yearly economic impact to Pasco County at more than $652 million.