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Pasco aims to become a business destination

The county will push acquiring land for industrial use while recruiting occupants for those same sites.

By MELIA BOWIE
Published February 15, 2004

As residential development continues to surge forward in 2004, the push to secure land in Pasco County for industrial use is gaining more ground.

This year, economic development leaders are anticipating the coming of new industrial parks, the expansion of others and the development of key commercial and office parks they hope will help the county evolve into an employment center.

The goal? "To give companies a place they can relocate" to, said Mary Jane Stanley, executive director of Pasco's Economic Development Council.

The push is on to help Pasco make the leap from a bedroom community to an economic destination. If officials are successful, the creation of job sites in Pasco ultimately could stop the flood of county job seekers into neighboring Pinellas and Hillsborough, ease the overflow on commuter roads and improve Pasco's tax base.

This year "we're looking to identify property for two things: business parks and light industrial," Stanley said.

In 2004 Pasco will be home to 23 industrial parks after hovering for years around 11. Major transportation corridors such as Interstate 75 and the Suncoast Parkway are key corridors for park development, officials said.

But just how much industrial and commercial land does the county need?

"We really haven't come up with a formula of how many acres are enough," Stanley said, noting a time frame in which to develop such land also is needed.

In the past, "we didn't really have a bar set," she said of acquiring parcels, although the EDC is working with the county to establish one.

In 2003 the council lobbied to have an additional 93 acres of Starkey land in western Pasco zoned for light industrial so that the family parcel for such a use now totals about 143 acres. The EDC also successfully lobbied last year to have about 233 acres of Grossenbacher property in central Pasco at State Road 52 and the Suncoast zoned for light industrial.

More land is needed but it was important to get those in a pipeline so "we could have more product right now," Stanley said.

Developers for Bexley Ranch and Wiregrass in central Pasco also are allocating more than 300 acres combined for business park and light industrial use at a future date.

By midyear Orlando-based Softwind LLC, now K & M Properties of Florida LLC, is scheduled to begin construction on a 70-acre parcel north of SR 52 in central Pasco called Suncoast Industrial Park.

The land off Hays Road is zoned for heavy industrial and was bought from the Caulfield family for more than $1-million. Development costs for the park are expected to exceed $1-million, said Jack Paine, chief operating officer of Softwind, which is now selling parcels there.

Also coming this year to central Pasco is Connerton Commerce Park, Suncoast Industrial Park Three (a 10-building park), and Suncoast Lakes, a development with 80,000 square feet of retail, 230,000 of office, 160,000 of office-fronted warehouse and 185,000 of warehouse.

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]


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