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Lennar proposes ‘agrihood’ on Angeline project in Pasco

Preliminary plans include barns, pavilion, organic farm, community garden and restaurant.

LAND O’ LAKES — Angeline, Lennar’s massive development planned for a former central Pasco ranch, is paying homage to its agricultural roots.

The company is proposing the area’s first agricultural neighborhood development or "agrihood'' on a 63-acre parcel, according to preliminary plans filed with Pasco County.

The agricultural site, at the southwest corner of State Road 52 and the planned extension of Sunlake Boulevard, could potentially include a restaurant, playground, demonstration garden, a cattle barn and pasture, a community garden, a high-yield organic farm, a barn and pavilion for community use and parking for 75 cars, according to conceptual drawings.

"That’s brilliant,'' said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who previously visited Serenbe, a 1,000-acre agrihood community near Atlanta in Chatahoochee Hills, Ga.

"I think the movement is really going to grow. It really provides for a sustainable community that more people want to live in,'' she said.

Agrihoods, communities built with a working farm or community garden as a focus, preserve natural lands and existing farms by allocating space for agriculture and food production, according to the Urban Land Institute. Agrihoods are a growing development trend, the institute said in a December 2018 report in which it counted agricultural projects in 27 U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

The idea allows farm-to-table produce, public markets, community gardening and healthier eating to replace fairways, putting greens and the 19th hole as developers seek to make use of open spaces beyond country clubs with 18-hole golf courses.

“The agrihood concept is an exciting idea that makes sustainable farming an integral part of a community,'' Mark Metheny, division president for Lennar said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "We think this could be a natural fit for Angeline, which is a truly unique place. We are in the very preliminary stages of envisioning what an agrihood here could become, and we look forward to sharing more details after our plans mature.”

Lennar is one of the home builders in Arden, in Palm Beach County, the first agrihood in South Florida. It held a grand opening in November of its 5-acre garden and event barn that also has a husband-and-wife team on staff as full-time farm directors.

Related: A skyline in the center of Pasco County?
The community event barn in the agrihood at Arden in Palm Beach County.
The community event barn in the agrihood at Arden in Palm Beach County. [ CHET FROHLICH | Freehold Communities ]

Lennar’s Angeline, formerly known as Project Arthur, is a planned 7,000-acre project that originally proposed as many as 11,495 homes, 5.4 million square feet of non-residential uses and an 800-acre corporate business park, in which an expanded H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute has been identified as the lead entity.

Related: Project Arthur revealed: Cancer center and research institute planned

Lennar recently agreed to sell 843 acres to Pasco County for $22 million as part of the county’s effort to preserve ecological corridors. The sale meant a reduction of more than 1,500 building lots within Angeline.

Related: Pasco okays largest-ever environmental land buy

The Angeline land, formerly a ranch operated by members of the Bexley family, is south of SR 52 and bordered by the Suncoast Parkway on the west and the CSX Railroad line on the east. The agrihood’s entrance would be from SR 52, southeast of the existing intersection at Quail Ridge Drive.

Though the agrihood concept is new to Pasco, community gardens are not. New Port Richey has been a leader in urban agriculture, and the Coalition of Community Gardens Tampa Bay counts five community gardens in New Port Richey and Dade City.

"Agrihoods — they’re terrific,'' said Dell deChant, associate chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida, chairman of the Environmental Committee of New Port Richey and a member of the Pasco County Food Policy Council and Florida Food Policy Council. "But, ultimately, it’s going to come down to implementation and management and sustaining it as part of the community structure. It’s positive in principal and trickier in execution.'’