LUTZ — Property once targeted for a T. Rowe Price office campus again is being considered for an employment center in central Pasco County.
The 72 acres at the southwest corner of State Road 54 and Sunlake Boulevard is the potential site for an economic development project known by the codename Project Canopy.
Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, confirmed the proposed project, but said he could not comment further. County Administrator Dan Biles and Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, whose district includes the site, said they were unaware of the project.
"But when they're given a project name like that, it mean it's jobs and a high-quality project,'' said Starkey.
The property has been on the market for several years, and "we are in early discussions with a potential buyer,'' Brian Lewbart, head of corporate public relations and communications for the T. Rowe Price Group in Baltimore, said via e-mail.
Engineers from King Engineering have requested a meeting with the county planning staff to discuss Project Canopy's initial site work, according to the meeting request form.
The land, zoned for agriculture use, already has county approval for 625,000 square feet of offices, a hotel and retail space. The property is fenced, used for cattle grazing and sports a for-sale sign along SR 54.
T. Rowe Price paid $13.5 million for the land nearly 10 years ago. It had revealed plans to move 425 jobs from Tampa to Pasco and potentially add 1,200 more employees over the coming decade as part of a $190 million investment in three multistory office buildings. The deal included nearly $30 million in state and local incentives.
The relocation was to have been completed by 2012, but the Great Recession left the company with vacant space to fill at its other locations. In 2014, the company confirmed it was scrapping its planned Pasco campus and said it would renew its Tampa lease. The company put the Lutz property back on the market, and last year announced it would shutter its Tampa operations by June 2019.
The high-profile rejection stung county officials. They had hoped the T. Rowe Price relocation and a planned, but never executed Raymond James Financial move to Wiregrass Ranch would help keep more of Pasco's workforce employed within the county.
In the years since, voters approved setting aside more than $50 million in Penny for Pasco sales tax dollars for economic development. The county has successfully attracted several employment centers, including the 500-job Mettler Toledo plant, which opened last year.
The T. Rowe Price land sits at the northern edge of the Long Lake Ranch development and is considered desirable for white-collar commerce because of its proximity to an educated workforce. When T.Rowe Price zeroed in on the property a decade ago, it was within a 30-minute drive of more than 88.000 people holding four-year college degrees.
Today, the location on SR 54, between the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41, has a population of 352,000 people living within 10 miles, according to marketing materials from the listing real estate agency, Jones Lang LaSalle.
Contact C.T. Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.