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Developer buys site of potential Wal-Mart

The Goodman Co. closes a deal with the owners of the Wiregrass Ranch for $6.5-million for 27 acres of pasture behind Hollybrook Plaza.

Published March 2, 2004

WESLEY CHAPEL - In what's likely the next step toward building a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wesley Chapel, a commercial developer has paid $6.5-million for 27 acres south of State Road 54.

The Goodman Co. closed the deal in January with the owners of the Wiregrass Ranch, paying $242,315 per acre for a pasture behind the Publix supermarket at Hollybrook Plaza east of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

"That would portend some development coming up soon," said John Dowd, vice president with Goodman's head office in West Palm Beach. "But we're not ready to make any announcements yet."

The site is approved for 230,000 square feet of building space, the right size for Wal-Mart's combination grocery and department store.

And it's no secret among real estate brokers that Wal-Mart is expected to grab the site for one of its next Pasco County supercenters.

Pasco has three supercenters, in New Port Richey, Port Richey and Zephyrhills. And Wal-Mart has announced plans for two more, in Land O'Lakes and Hudson.

Goodman also closed on a second piece of the Wiregrass Ranch, 36.7 acres on the northeast corner of State Road 56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Wiregrass Commons is the name of the proposed shopping center there.

Goodman paid $7.3-million, or nearly $200,000 an acre, for the site beside what is an increasingly busy commuter corridor north of New Tampa.

The construction limit at Wiregrass Commons is 170,000 square feet, about the size of three supermarkets.

It's no surprise Goodman is tight-lipped about anchor tenants in its shopping centers, said Patrick Berman, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. Wal-Mart demands confidentiality from its business partners.

But if Goodman announces a deal with Wal-Mart, Goodman is likely to retain ownership of the center and lease to Wal-Mart.

"The main parcels they usually keep," Berman said of Goodman. "It's a long-term investment for them."

Dowd promised no announcement about tenants before April. Wal-Mart has sought a Wesley Chapel location in response to the hordes it draws to its New Tampa store south of the Pasco-Hillsborough line on Bruce B. Downs.

Another store proposed by Wal-Mart, a Sam's Club warehouse store on the northwest corner of SR 56 and Bruce B. Downs, is under attack by residents of Seven Oaks. The main complaint seems to be traffic.

The supercenter site on SR 54 benefits from having few residential neighbors. Hollybrook Plaza sits on one side, a cow pasture on another.

The nearest neighborhoods, Saddlebrook and The Villages at Wesley Chapel, are about a half mile away.

- James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at 813 909-4613 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613. His e-mail address is

[Last modified March 2, 2004, 01:44:59]

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