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Engineering firm plans move to Longleaf

By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003

Florida Design Consultants, which has operated with offices in New Port Richey and Clearwater, is relocating and consolidating.

The engineering firm, which does residential development and road projects along the Florida's west coast, is planning a $3-million-plus move to Longleaf in southwest Pasco at the end of the year.

The move will combine the two offices: 35 workers from downtown New Port Richey and 40 from Clearwater.

"It's not that we're keeping it a secret; we're just trying to get all our ducks in a row," said Ed Mazur, president of Florida Design Consultants Inc. "It's going to come before the County Commission in a meeting or two."

The firm's plans entail building a 24,000-square-foot building inside a professional center just off Starkey Boulevard to be called "Workplace."

The center would contain offices and commercial space, and would be constructed near residential Longleaf, a planned community off State Road 54 that is designed to recreate small-town living. Florida Design Consultants is the project's engineer.

Mazur said relocating the company's staff could cost up to $20,000; and the 75 employees include engineers, surveyors, transportation planners and environmental experts.

"A new building is going to be close to $3-million," he said.

Officials at the Pasco Economic Development Council have been working with Florida Design Consultants for about two months to help them expand in Pasco.

In 1998, the company merged with Casson Engineering, Pasco's oldest engineering firm. After buying Casson Engineering, Florida Design kept the offices at 6321 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey, open.

With their departure from the site, city officials said a number of uses could take its place, among them: shops.

"We want to get as much retail in there as we can," city redevelopment director Gerald Paradise said of the downtown area.

"It creates more foot traffic," he said and added that in turn creates more revenue for neighboring businesses.

As for suburban Pasco, the new headquarters represents an investment, said John Walsh, existing industry manager with the county EDC.

"A company doesn't anticipate a move like this unless they anticipate expanding positions," Walsh said.

-- Melia Bowie covers business in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is bowie@sptimes.com .

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