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Developer may seek annex of new area

The developer is talking to Tampa officials about it. The city might have to annex two nearby communities first.

By MICHAEL SANDLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2001


TAMPA -- The developer of another big New Tampa housing community has asked the city about a possible annexation.

Representatives from St. Lucie West Development Corp., which is still negotiating to buy the property, met with city officials this month about building up to 1,599 single-family homes on 1,285 acres of pastureland south of County Line Road and east of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

St. Lucie West vice president Jim Zboril, who is handling the project, said the company is finalizing purchase plans for the land. Ron Rotella, the mayor's special consultant on development, met with the developer.

"Right now, the city of Tampa provides water and sewer in this area," Zboril said. "Whether we annex or not, we would need a water and sewer agreement with the city of Tampa, and we did have a discussion in regard to annexation."

Standing in the way, however, are a couple of existing subdivisions in unincorporated Hillsborough. Pebble Creek and Cross Creek likely would have to be annexed into the city first. Coincidentally, some residents recently asked the city about the benefits of such a move.

The St. Lucie West project, which might also include a golf course and commercial space, is based on a previous plan that the county approved nearly seven years ago for a subdivision called Live Oak. Zboril said the developer has reviewed the abandoned 1994 deal and early reports suggest it is still viable. The property is owned by Live Oak Realty, an overseas company with an office in St. Petersburg.

The developer approached the city, Rotella said. "It was natural for them to meet with us, because we are the ones doing things out there," Rotella said.

The New Tampa area is one of the busiest growth centers in the city and is expected to continue to boom in the coming years.

In July the city approved plans for Grand Hampton, a 1,600-home golf community directly west of Live Oak on the other side of Bruce B. Downs. This month the City Council rezoned land for 350 apartments and 150,000 square feet of commercial space to replace rural land off Morris Bridge Road and Cross Creek Boulevard.

And in the coming weeks, the council is expected to hear an annexation proposal for K-Bar Ranch, a 2,500-acre cattle ranch east of Live Oak off County Line Road. That development could have up to 3,600 homes shortly after its impending annexation.

"Obviously, our success in this market is determined by how we position this community compared to what the competition is," Zboril said.

Pebble Creek and Cross Creek, communities directly to the south, would likely have to be annexed, which requires a vote of at least 50 percent of residents. A proposed community with no residents merely needs the developer's consent.

"The real issue is, places get annexed because the city makes deals with developers before any people get there," said Richard Grinnell, vice president of the Pebble Creek homeowners association. "Now it has to come up to the people who live there."

- Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or sandler@sptimes.com.

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