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Expect more options for spending your money

The retail business is booming as the county's shopping centers expand and new ones are planned.

By ROBERT KING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

When it comes to new retail stores, the intersection of State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard is expected to retain its title this year as the center of Hernando County's economic universe.

A new Ruby Tuesday restaurant should open there by the end of the year. And a handful of other small stores will likely join the march into Hernando County's retail red zone by year's end, local developers say.

In fact, the area around the intersection is so hot that real estate broker Buddy Selph has taken to calling it the crossing of Main and Main streets.

Land is going for $200,000 an acre. And, in one case, Realtor Gary Schraut said, the owner of a three-quarter-acre parcel is seeking $500,000.

"The only thing slowing it down now is that the value of the land has gone through the roof," Schraut said.

Community National Bank was expected to close a deal last week for land to build a new bank branch near the LifeSouth Community Blood Center on SR 50 that should open early in 2004, Schraut said.

In fact, the vitality of the Mariner-SR 50 intersection is spreading out.

Selph, a broker for Tommie Dawson Realty, said the "50 Corridor" really extends east of the Suncoast Parkway to the site of the new St. Petersburg Times building.

While that corridor along SR 50 is sizzling, it is far from being the only hot retail turf in Hernando County.

Real estate forecasters say an explosion along U.S. 41 south of Brooksville is inevitable -- and could begin this year, given the massive housing developments getting off the ground at Hernando Oaks and the Southern Hills Plantation.

Fuel has only been added to the fire by the end of road construction along U.S. 41 and the apparently strong start of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Brooksville, Selph said.

The next hot spot on the horizon -- though it still may be more than a year away from taking off -- is the area near Powell Middle School surrounding the intersection of Barclay Avenue and Elgin Boulevard-Powell Road.

Schraut said he expects that a new strip shopping center anchored by a major grocery store will set up shop along Elgin within the next two years.

Selph agrees and, in fact, said the intersection could resemble the area around Mariner and Northcliffe boulevards in Spring Hill in a couple of years.

The big draw, both developers agree, is the planned development of more than 1,250 homes along Elgin Boulevard known as Holland Springs and the spurt of new apartments along Barclay.

Of course, not to be lost in this year's crop of new businesses are what the Wal-Mart empire brings to the table. A new Wal-Mart Supercenter along U.S. 19 in Spring Hill is due to open this spring. And it is possible that a new Sam's Club planned near the existing Supercenter on State Road 50 could be open by year's end.

Elsewhere on U.S. 19, the St. Sebastiaan Belgian Microbrewery -- a brewery and 320-seat restaurant serving French, Belgian and American cuisine -- should open south of the Hampton Inn by August. Also on U.S. 19, a Popeye's fast food restaurant is due to open sometime this year near the Lakewood Plaza shopping center.

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