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Giant mall clears new hurdle
Work on Pasco Town Centre could start within six months if the County Commission says yes.
By CHUIN-WEI YAP
Published June 14, 2007
SAN ANTONIO - For more than a decade, the cattle ranch on the southeastern corner of State Road 52 and Interstate 75 was a developers' mirage.
At least two developers explored and later ditched plans for a mall there. Brokers say this kind of location shopping is common practice among commercial developers.
But things changed in 2002, when the Shailendra Group, an Atlanta developer, went on an acquisition spree, spending at least $11-million to amass 945 acres for what's now called the Pasco Town Centre project.
On Monday, it secured unanimous approval from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for a development there that includes 2-million square feet of stores, 1.7-million square feet of industrial space and 1.7-million square feet of offices.
The council's signoff is a necessary precursor to the county's final approval. The project is tentatively scheduled to go before the County Commission on July 10.
"If we get the final approval, we would probably start construction within six months, " said Ron Weaver, the attorney representing the Shailendra Group.
Weaver had no new anchor tenants to announce, but the Chelsea Property Group has signed up to put 120 stores there. Chelsea is the same group that brought high-end outlet malls, with brands like Barneys and Salvatore Ferragamo to Orlando and Ellenton.
Chelsea had wanted to launch by 2008 but recently delayed its plans. The group completes only one or two such malls in a year, and its spokeswoman said it was too late to open the Pasco version in 2008.
The Shailendra Group has big dreams.
Expected to generate more than 11, 000 jobs and $81-million in tax revenue over 20 years, Pasco Town Centre would be the county's single biggest "employment center." That's planner-speak for an area with special density allowances targeted at economic development.
At 2-million square feet, the proposed outdoor mall would dwarf even Cypress Creek Town Center at Wesley Chapel, which has slightly more than 1-million square feet.
In the past, Weaver has said the site would have a bigger pull on Hernando and Citrus counties than malls farther south.
Pasco Town Centre, expected to build out in 2020, also includes nearly 2, 000 homes and 640 hotel rooms. The Shailendra Group is donating $1.7-million to build affordable housing there.
With that kind of density, expect major road works.
Planners and developers are working with a price tag of $460-million worth of road improvements, Weaver said.
Specific changes so far are still on the drawing board.
Weaver said a flyover and noise buffers for I-75 at State Road 52 were being discussed. But Bijan Behzadi, a state Department of Transportation engineer, said that corner may not have enough space for a flyover.
What could emerge, though, is a "loop ramp" in the northwestern corner of the interchange, Behzadi said. That's the kind of cloverleaf road that allows drivers to join the interstate without stopping to make a turn.
That section of I-75 and SR 52 also would expand to six lanes, Behzadi said.