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Is south central Pasco oversaturated with apartments? Depends on whom you ask

Commissioner Mike Moore takes issue with consultant’s conclusions, says more multifamily construction is not needed in his district.
A leasing sign is seen at Parc at Wesley Chapel apartment complex a year ago, just as the County Commission was approving a moratorium on new applications for apartments. Now the moratorium is over and the county is discussing next steps.
A leasing sign is seen at Parc at Wesley Chapel apartment complex a year ago, just as the County Commission was approving a moratorium on new applications for apartments. Now the moratorium is over and the county is discussing next steps. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published May 3|Updated May 3

DADE CITY — For the last year, Pasco County has been on pause in considering new apartment complexes in the fast-growing Wesley Chapel area.

The consultant the county hired to study whether the area already had too many apartments concluded that the zone is not oversaturated. In fact, over the next 10 years the area will need between 1,300 and 1,700 new apartment units.

On Tuesday, County Commissioner Mike Moore said the report that focused on his district held some numbers that didn’t add up for him. Then he looked at the number of new units already under construction and added in a new complex that just filed an application a week ago.

Moore concluded that even if no one ever builds any of hundreds of additional apartment approvals the county has already granted in the area, over the next 10 years, “we would already meet the demand.”

A year ago, overwhelmed by the number of his constituents complaining about so many new apartments going up in his south central Pasco district, Moore suggested a moratorium while the county determined if enough was enough. That ended April 1.

The consultant hired by the county quantified construction approvals already granted within the boundary, studied current demand for apartments and added up how many new units were already under construction.

District 2 Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore
District 2 Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

The report concluded that 248 new apartments opened in Moore’s district over the last two years with 552 more opening in the next year. In addition, early construction is underway for another 838 units. By the consultants’ projections, another 1,200 to 1,500 new apartments have received permission to be built within the boundaries but are not under construction.

Moore questioned the mix of numbers but his bottom line was that no more apartments are needed to meet demand. Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick also had questions about another development with apartments not on the list.

Consultants Calvin, Giordano & Associates and Lambert Advisory concluded that, based on trends and demand for multifamily units, that portion of Pasco is not overbuilt, saying, “There does not appear to be an oversaturation of entitlements for multifamily units; and, particularly, as it is viewed from a near-term planning horizon (five to seven years) given the current level of multifamily demand.”

The report has sparked debate among commissioners, especially since a presentation immediately before the apartment report strongly recommended that Pasco add more industrial and other forms of job-creating development in the coming years — since roughly 70 percent of employed Pasco residents leave the county each day to go to work.

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That report by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council recommended the county needs to add 150,000 new jobs to balance that high commuting percentage.

Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey said the mix of future land uses needs to be discussed as the county redraws its growth blueprint in the coming months.

While the county cannot continue to forbid developers from submitting apartment applications, Moore said there was a simple solution for the commission when they are presented additional units for approval.

“What you can do is say no,” he said.

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