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Zephyrhills Zeitgeist: Bigger is better

Shops popped up downtown, houses rose on the edges of town, big chains moved in, and tax collectors did a jig.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published February 15, 2004

ZEPHYRHILLS - Business activity in 2003 reached from the city's center to the undeveloped land on all sides.

City leaders set a goal early in the year to control the growth they knew was coming, both downtown and on the fringes where developers have set their sights. The expectations were accurate.

A Mexican restaurant, art studio and health club popped up downtown. Pancho's Villa, a landmark in San Antonio, opened a branch on Seventh Street in May. Outback Pottery and Papermaking Studio, where customers can create their own masterpieces, and Main Street Fitness joined Fifth Avenue's eclectic mix of antique stores, offices and restaurants.

Main Street Inc. director Cynthia Craig hailed the developments as a sign of faith in the future of Zephyrhills.

But the future may truly lie on the edges of town, where numerous residential developments are in the works. The Wal-Mart Supercenter that opened in late 2002 proved its magnetism: a Chili's restaurant opened in the parking lot, along with a string of other commercial outlets. Next to the supercenter, workers are building North Town Center, a 23,000-square-foot shopping plaza that will include a Beef O'Brady's and Fashion Bug.

On the lot north of that, a Lowe's home improvement store will soon appear. The 100,000-square-foot store is expected to create 100 full-time jobs and considerable revenue in taxes and impact fees. Across town, Home Depot is building a store at SR 54 and Eiland Boulevard.

Two hotels moved into the city in 2003. Quality Inn Suites opened in September on U.S. 301, north of Eiland Boulevard. Two miles north, near the planned Lowe's, workers broke ground in September for a 63-room Microtel Inn.

All the new development has been a boon to city coffers. From 2002 to 2003, the city saw an overall increase of nearly $50-million in taxable property value, including new construction.

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


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