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Wesley Chapel : Development News

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For Good: Home ownership program helps low-income families

The American dream of home ownership is becoming a reality for low-income families because a local nonprofit helps people help themselves become homeowners.
 
Florida Home Partnership, a program that has served Hillsborough and Pasco counties for the past 21 years, has assisted over 700 families, veterans and seniors in achieving their goal to become homeowners.
 
“There are a lot of people that are shut out of the chance at home ownership,” says Earl Pfeiffer, Executive Director for Florida Home Partnership. “Our program is not a handout, it is a hand up.”
 
Pfeiffer explains that the program, which has built communities in rural areas throughout Hillsborough and Pasco counties, helps those who otherwise would not have the chance to own a home.
 
“The first criteria an individual or family must meet, is that they be under 80-percent of the area median income,” he says. “In Hillsborough and Pasco counties, for a single person that income cannot exceed $33,050, and for a family of four it cannot exceed $47,200.
 
In addition to the income level, individuals and families must have good or repairable credit, a reliable source of income and be willing to work on their own home.
 
“This is a self-help program,” Pfeiffer says. “Families in the community work on the homes they will be living in, and are required to work a minimum of 600 hours on skilled tasks.”
 
The innovative program is funded by a variety of sources. Program funding comes from the Department of Agriculture, as well as both Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Funding for the homes, comes from Congress in the form of the Section 502 loan, as well as down payment assistance from the State of Florida.
 
“As a real estate agent myself, I see how the rates are going up, it can be very difficult to buy a house,” Pfeiffer says. “We all want to be a part of the American dream, and this program helps people achieve that dream.”

TGH opens second primary health care center in Pasco County

Tampa General Hospital continues its expansion into Pasco County with the opening of the Tampa General Medical Group Family Care Center in Wesley Chapel.

The medical facility opens Jan. 7 at 2324 Oak Myrtle Lane, on the north side of State Road 56, off Cypress Creek Boulevard. Operating hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. This is TGH's 13th Family Care Center and the second in Pasco County.

"We're trying to find our sites where growth is high," says Jana Gardner, VP of physicians practices operations. "The area is growing like a weed, kind of like Brandon."

The interchange of I-75 and S.R.56 is a booming area for new development in the Wesley Chapel area including the planned master-community of Cypress Creek Town Center, Tampa Premium Outlets mall and the Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex.

Tampa General opened a family care center, for patients age 18 and older, in the Trinity area of Pasco in October.

The Wesley Chapel facility has two doctors, Stephanie Talton-Williamson and Cheryl Roberson. They will offer health care to patients age 12 and older. Services include physicals, immunizations, illness visits and management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Talton-Williamson is board certified in internal medicine. She completed her residency and earned a medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Roberson is board certified in family medicine. She completed her residency a the Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas. Her medical degree is from the University of Kansas in Kansas City.

The family care center also is the address for Tower Radiology Center which will be a convenience for physicians and patients, says Gardner.

 TGH officials plan to open a 14th Family Care Center in Fishhawk community in LIthia in late January.

Tampa General Hospital opens first primary care center in Pasco County

Tampa General Hospital is opening its first primary care center in Pasco County in the Trinity area of New Port Richey.

Tampa General Medical Group (TGMG) Family Care Center Trinity is the 12th primary care location for TGH. Another Pasco County primary care center is scheduled to open in Wesley Chapel in January.

The Trinity facility, which opened Oct. 13, is located in a remodeled medical building at 2433 Country Place Blvd, near West Pasco Industrial Park.

In recent years TGH has been expanding its reach into Hillsborough County neighborhoods such as Carrollwood, Brandon, Sun City Center and Tampa Palms. Hospital officials took a look at the demographics and health care needs of Pasco as well.

"It did show there was not a lot of access for patients," says Jana Gardner, VP of Physician Practice Operations.

The review also revealed something unexpected about the age of the area's population.

"We were surprised at the older age group up there," Gardner says.

Initially TGH officials planned on a family practice clinic but instead opted to offer services to patients age 18 or older. Wesley Chapel trends younger and has more families with children so Gardner says that facility will serve children and adults when it opens in January.

TGMG Family Care Center Trinity will have two doctors and a support staff of about five people.

Joyce Thomas, a board certified doctor of internal medicine, is moving from TGH's care center on Kennedy Boulevard to Pasco. TGH has not yet recruited a second doctor, Gardner says.

The Trinity office is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday through Friday. Available services include immunizations, physicals, and management of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The office also is the first TGMG Family Care Center to offer on-site physical therapy.

Gardner says the care center will have the latest in technology including electronic medical records that doctors can access from any TGH facility. Patients also will be able to go online to see their laboratory results, ask questions or schedule appointments.

Walmart Opens First Wesley Chapel Supercenter, Adds 300 Jobs

The first Walmart Supercenter in Wesley Chapel brings a job boost to the local economy with 300 full- and part-time jobs.

The 207,000-square-foot supercenter, at 28500 State Road 54, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering residents an array of merchandise, a pharmacy, groceries, electronics and toys. There also is a free "Site to Store" program that allows customers to order items online for pickup at a brick-and-mortar store including the one at Wesley Chapel.

"It will allow our residents, more than 60,000 people, more convenience in shopping," says Jeff Novotny, president of The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and principal at American Consulting Professionals/Engineers of Florida.  "It also serves as an attraction for more development. Walmart is a global industry. It's a positive influence in our community."

The supercenter is forging local ties.

One family-owned business -- Wesley Chapel Florist -- is now a local provider for the supercenter. Lisa Armitage says Walmart representatives admired a floral arrangement she did for the chamber and offered a contract.

The store manager is Stephanie White who started with the company in 1988 as an hourly cashier in Port Richey.

Walmart's grocery department is stocked with fresh produce and name brands including organic items by Wild Oats. A Walmart mobile app for iPhone and Android allows customers to transfer prescriptions and order refills.

There is also a bakery, deli, money and vision centers and a digital photo processing department.

To celebrate the opening Walmart donated $7,000 in grants locally to Wesley Chapel High School, Wesley Chapel Lions Club, Watergrass Elementary School and Lily of the Valley food pantry.

In addition, the Wesley Chapel store will participate in the Walmart Foundation's $2 billion commitment to fight hunger through 2015. 

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Jeff Novotny, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce

Florida's Largest Ice Hockey Complex Coming To Pasco

Youth ice hockey players will soon be lacing up skates at the largest ice rink facility in Florida.

Ice hockey booster and Z Mitch VP Gordie Zimmerman plans to build the 150,500-square-foot Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel at the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 56. His partners in Z Mitch are VP Tarra Mitchell and President George Mitchell. As part of the ambitious plan, a 120-room hotel also is proposed just south of the sports complex.

Z Mitch is going through the permitting phase but Zimmerman says site preparation should begin within a month, with a planned opening in fall of 2015. The hotel is in planning stages.

The approximately $20 million complex will have four rinks including one at Olympic-size and two at standard size. A fourth space will be multipurpose to accommodate ice skating as well as other sports such as lacrosse, arena football, volleyball and basketball. Meetings and high school graduations can be held there.

Paralympic sled hockey, speed and figure skating, also are planned uses for the Olympic rink.

There also will be a restaurant, pro-shop and office, Zimmerman says.

Long-term, Zimmerman hopes to establish an ice academy similar to one at Saddlebrook for young tennis players. "He'll actually have students who would want to make it in the big leagues or go on to college and would come down here for training," says Ed Caum, Pasco County tourism director.

Tampa is the site for the 2016 NCAA Men's Frozen Four tourmanent. "This just opens up more opportunities...(Pasco) still has room to grow so we look forward to promoting venues for Tampa being a major sports destination," Caum says.

Forget I-75. Caum says,"We'll become Icer-75 corridor."

While the hotel is in planning stages, Caum says the intent of Z Mitch is to open a full-service, flag hotel. Pasco currently has a hotel deficit, he adds.

Zimmerman anticipates that his facility initially will ease a shortage in Tampa Bay of ice rinks available for practice.   Now he says local high schools, including Wiregrass Ranch where he coaches, and others sometimes travel long distances and compete for time at Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Another facility is in Ellenton."They just cannot get enough practice ice," says Zimmerman who is a former general manager at the Brandon facility. "This will fill a big void."

The Cypress Creek ice complex can be a draw for adult, youth and college-level leagues and teams, and tournaments. Zimmerman also anticipates interest from National Hockey League teams that would want additional practice time before leaving Tampa for their next scheduled games.

Zimmerman says he has been waiting three years to launch his project. A potential deal in South Tampa didn't work out. But based on a research/marketing study, he says," This one was the best site we could come up with as far as demographics and access."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Gordie Zimmerman, Z Mitch
 

Centra Care Health Clinic To Open On Dale Mabry In Tampa

Florida Hospital, the flagship of the not-for-profit Adventist Health System, will  open its third Centra Care clinic in Tampa Bay in June. 

Hembree Construction is nearing completion of an approximately 5,000-square-foot urgent care center located at 301 N. Dale Mabry, just north of Kennedy Boulevard. The site is a former gas station and convenience store. Urgent Care Developers of Tampa LLC purchased the property in January for about $1.3 million, according to Hillsborough County records.

Other locations for Centra Care are Wesley Chapel and the Brandon/Riverview area. But South Tampa, which has had a burst of new apartments, shops and restaurants, is another expansion area for the Orlando-based hospital chain.

"We're very retail focused. We want our facilities in an area where there is high visibility. The growth in development in South Tampa makes (this location) attractive," says Jake McKelvy, director of regional operations and business development. "We try to put our care centers close enough for follow-up care."

In this case Florida Hospital has a campus about five miles further north on Dale Mabry in the Carrollwood neighborhood. McKelvy says plans are under way to open a fourth Centra Care facility in Carrollwood.

Two more sites also are being considered in the Tampa area.

The Dale Mabry facility will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments also can be made online

There will be a staff of about 12 people including board-certified physicians who can treat common ailments such as colds, allergies, sore throats and influenza. But the clinic also will have an on-site laboratory and X-ray equipment. Physicians will be able to treat sprains, broken bones and other fractures. Physicals, vaccinations, worker's compensation injuries and illnesses, and employer required drug screening also will be available. And the website offers "what's going around" health alerts.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Jake McKelvy, Florida Hospital

The Busy Buddy Moves Into Dade City's SMARTstart Incubator

The Busy Buddy is moving from home base to office space as it joins other fledgling businesses at the SMARTstart incubator site in the Dade City Business Center.
 
Owner and President Kellye Dash, 39, started her business support services company as a part-time venture operated from her home while working full-time as an Information Technology (IT) manager for another company.
 
In 2012 she took The Busy Buddy full-time and in January moved into the business center at 15000 Citrus Country Drive in Dade City in northeast Pasco County. 
 
"I always knew I wanted to have my own business," says Dash, a 2007 graduate of the University of South Florida. "This is my opportunity to strike out on my own."
 
She currently works with two sub-contractors to help businesses on a range of issues, including social media, email marketing, web research, database cleanups, event and meeting coordination, and special projects
.
One of her clients is Tampa engineering firm, Heidt Design, which has worked on residential development projects including Fishhawk Ranch.
 
"I'm looking to grow," says Dash. She plans to add staff as her business expands both locally and nationally.
 
SMARTstart is managed by the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. It is the first venture of its kind in the county, providing networking opportunities and technical support to small businesses. While some startup companies are located at the business center, others are located off-site.
 
"We're all trying to grow and collaborate and share in the challenges we have and help each other," says Dash.
 
She grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and moved to Tampa nearly a decade ago. She lives in Wesley Chapel with her three daughters.
 
In the future, Dash is planning to offer an internship at her company. She especially wants to be a mentor to girls and women. "You can do whatever you want to do," she says.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Kellye Dash, The Busy Buddy

Urban Land Institute Visit Examines Pasco County's Growth

Pasco County should redouble efforts to encourage development along north-south U.S. Highway 19 in West Pasco and abandon the idea of building an elevated tollway along the east-west State Road 54/56 corridor, according to preliminary recommendations by a panel of urban experts visiting under the auspices of the Urban Land Institute. 

ULI experts were in Pasco from Oct 7 to Oct 11. The panel was invited by the County to help evaluate its planning efforts since 2008, ULI's last visit.

Much of the ULI panel's visit to Pasco, the county immediately north of more urban Pinellas (Clearwater-St. Pete) and Hillsborough (Tampa) counties was dedicated to private interviews and discussions with the local community, business leaders, county staff and other stakeholders.

The ULI Panel acknowledged that the County has made significant strides since 2008 with the adoption of the Market Areas, Urban Services Areas, the County's Strategic Plan and other improvements. Although the ULI Panel applauded the County's recent planning efforts, it also cautioned Pasco County on several aspects of development.

"Pasco County has approved over 300,000 units for construction, adequate to meet the supply for next 75 years,'' says ULI Panelist Dan Conway. Because approved growth far exceeds market demand, the County should guide new development into designated Urban Service Areas on highways 19 and 54.

Redevelopment efforts along the U.S. 19 corridor should focus on creating Business Improvement Districts, providing redevelopment incentives and seek public-private partnerships to establish a "Corridor Lifestyle'' characterized by high-density mixed-use development within walkable distances from transit stops.

Panelist April Anderson Lamoureux recommends growing the health care sector and small business expansion. The County also should "embrace Eco-Tourism as one of its key development opportunity,'' adds Anderson-Lamoureux.

The ULI Panel recommended against plans to build an elevated tollway on the State Roads 54/56 corridor, connecting U.S. 19 to East Pasco.

"All around the Country there are at least 12 efforts to take down elevated highway structures since the community said they don't want them,'' says Pat Hawley, one of the ULI Panelists, referring to notable projects in cities that are turning highways into vibrant parks.

"You might have the potential to build the tollway but it would in fact impede the County's efforts of creating place making,'' concludes Hawley.

ULI Panelist Dan Slone suggested the County look at the "Highways to Boulevards'' initiative by the Congress for New Urbanism.
 
Lastly, the Panel asked Pasco County to embrace its diversity and cautioned against applying the same design standards throughout the county. The Panel is expected to give a full report within the next 90 days.
 
"ULI's recommendations validate our efforts to make Pasco a premier county,'' says John Hagen, President of Pasco Economic Development Council.
"The Panel may have just pointed us to the true North. I think we need to re-examine the elevated tollway.''

Headquartered in Washington D.C., the Urban Land Institute, is a nonprofit global education and research institute, which provides Advisory Services to communities for solving planning and policy issues.

The panel included economic development, real estate and urban planning experts, both from public and private sectors. On the final day of their visit, panel members presented their initial findings and recommendations at the West Pasco Government Center to a large gathering of nearly 100 people.
   
Writer: Vinod Kadu
Sources: John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council

Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel Opens To Patients

After hosting a community grand opening to approximately 8,000 people, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel opened to patients on October 1st at 7 a.m.

Featuring an 18-bed emergency room with a streamlined emergency room process, dedicated imaging equipment and nurses and board-certified emergency room physicians on-site 24 hours a day, the 200,000-square-foot hospital took 22 months to build.

The hospital was fully staffed with with 175 expert physicians upon opening, practicing in the Emergency Department, Vascular Surgery, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Cardiac Care, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Radiology Services and Imaging Diagnostics, Women's Mammography and Diagnostics, General Surgery, Gastroenterology, Urology and Pulmonary.

In addition, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel is expected to open a $25 million, 100,000-square-foot, three-story Wellness Center by January 2013.

“This is part of the continuum of care for the Wesley Chapel community,” says Donna Jarmusz, senior VP of business development for Alter+Care, who is overseeing the construction of the Wellness Plaza project. “The hospital will be treating people who need inpatient care for more serious illness while the Wellness Center is part of the hospital's mission and philosophy to help people improve and maintain their health.”

According to hospital spokeswoman Tracy Clouser, the hospital will continue to fill a number of nursing and various staff positions. To apply, visit the hospital's website.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Donna Jarmusz, Alter+Care & Tracy Clouser, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel

Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel Breaks Ground On New Wellness Plaza

Pasco County officials and local dignitaries broke ground in April on Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel's new three-story 100,000-square-foot Wellness Plaza.

The facility will supplement Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, a new 80-bed hospital with the capacity of expanding to 288 beds as community health care needs grow. The hospital is expected to open in September 2012 while the Wellness Plaza is slated for January 2013.

“This project is part of the continuum of care for the Wesley Chapel community,” says Donna Jarmusz, senior VP of business development for Alter+Care, who is overseeing the Wellness Plaza project. “The hospital will be treating people who need impatient care for more serious illnesses while the Wellness Center is part of the hospital's mission and philosophy to help people improve and maintain their health.”

The $25 million Wellness Plaza project will feature a 50,000-square-foot wellness facility open to the community on a membership basis. The state-of-the-art facility will include amenities such as an aquatic center with a warm water therapy pool, aquatic group exercise classes including pre- and post-natal classes, a lap pool for swimming and swimming lessons; a 9-mile-to-the-lap indoor track; an extensive fitness area with cardio and strength training equipment; group fitness rooms for yoga, pilates and hot yoga classes; men's, women's and family locker rooms; and a heart healthy cafe.

“The Wellness Plaza will help to give people who have been trying to improve their lifestyle by losing weight or trying to quit smoking live a healthier life,” Jarmusz says. “It will be a major resource with several rehabilitation services in one location.”

The facility will also include a conference area with a demonstration kitchen for healthy cooking classes. Disease management classes will also be available.

“We'll integrate an exercise program with dieticians and nutritional counseling -- whatever you might need to manage your chronic disease,” Jarmusz says.

Other services at the center include physician offices, a women's center and specialty clinics.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Donna Jarmusz, Alter+Care

Investor Buys New Tampa's Walk At Highwoods Preserve II

New Tampa's Walk at Highwoods Preserve II retail center has been purchased by a private investment group.

B&L Investments purchased the 28,452-square-foot center for $4 million from Tampa's DDR Corp., a joint venture whose majority partner is an affiliate of TIAA-CREF. Mark Shellabarger of CBRE's Private Capital Group in Tampa represented the seller, who owns centers in the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil.

“The buyer was interested in the property because of its size, location on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard just east of Interstate 75 in the affluent New Tampa submarket and a tenant mix that includes several regional and national retailers and service providers,” Shellabarger says.

Located at 17500 Preserve Walk Lane in Tampa, the mixed-tenant center was completed in 2003, consisting of three single-story retail buildings. Current tenants include FedEx Office, Boston Market, Moe's Southwest Grill and Jenny Craig.

“Walk at Highwoods is an attractive center with a strong location, offering the new owners the opportunity to increase revenue through lease-up of the available space,” Shallabarger says. “The buyer has expressed plans to improve returns on their investment by concentrating on leasing and property management with personal, hands-on attention.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mark Shellabarger, CBRE

Pasco County Offers Raymond James Financial Incentives To Relocate

By a unanimous vote, the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners approved a $10 million incentive package in an attempt to get Raymond James Financial to move to the Wesley Chapel area.

With construction on the first two of the new Raymond James Financial towers in Wiregrass Ranch to begin as early as next year, the county offered the company millions in tax breaks and road word in hopes that the project will bring approximately 750 jobs to Pasco County.

“Raymond James has signed a purchase agreement for the property,” says Steve Hollister, Raymond James corporate communications PR manager. “A final due diligence period of up to nine months will allow the firm to examine geotechnical, environmental and other aspects of the property to ensure compatibility with the project.”

Should the examination result in a decision to move forward, the company will begin work on the site, located at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard in Wiregrass, in hopes to get the first tower completed as early as 2013; the second tower won't see completion until 2020.

According to an analysis by the Pasco Economic Development Council, Raymond James Financial's move to the county is expected to generate $135 million in taxable sales, add $40 million to county property tax and $9 million in other taxes. In addition, Pasco agreed to invest nearly $4.5 million to improve road conditions around the site.

“We will have more information as the process proceeds,” says Hollister.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Steve Hollister, Raymond James Corporate Communications

TBARTA Asks Tampa Bay Residents To Help Plan For Future

Beginning Thursday, April 14, residents in the seven counties that comprise the Tampa Bay region will be able to participate in shaping the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority's (TBARTA) master plan, the update of which will include the addition of freight and road networks, airports and seaports as well as the impact of new federal air quality regulations.

Residents of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Citrus, Sarasota, Manatee, Pasco and Hernando counties will be able to participate in six telephone "Town Hall" meetings by dialing a toll-free number that will be posted online at www.tbarta.com. The dates are as follow:

Thursday, April 14 - Sarasota County
Tuesday, April 19 - Hillsborough County
Thursday, April 21 - Pasco County
Monday, April 25 - Citrus and Hernando counties
Tuesday, April 26 - Manatee County
Wednesday, April 27 - Pinellas County

TBARTA spokesperson Amy Ellis cautions that the expanded plans will not overhaul what is already in place.

"With the master plan update, we are not 'recreating the wheel,' " says Ellis. "What we are doing is bringing all of the plans in the region together in one place. This way, we can ensure that all areas are covered and we can more easily identify the most important priorities. This includes the transit network, the roadways, freight network, airports and seaports.

"It isn't necessarily an expansion of these facilities, although there are some projects underway or in the works. The I-4 Connector, for example, is under construction and will connect the Port of Tampa to I-4, making it much easier for trucks carrying freight to travel to and from the Port. A similar project has been identified as needed in the Manatee area -- a better roadway connection to Port Manatee."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Amy Ellis, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

Adventist Takes Over UCH Health Group, Tampa

Hospitals formerly under the University Community Hospital (UCH) umbrella came under new management in September, when the UCH network joined the Christian-based Adventist Health System (AHS).

Adventist Health System committed $125 million in capital investments, $10 million to the UCH foundation and took on UCH's outstanding debts and liabilities. John Harding, former head of ACH's Florida Hospital Heartland, was appointed UCH's new CEO.

"The merger is only a few months old, so it's business as usual as far as everyday hospital activity at our campuses for employees, patients and visitors,'' says UCH spokesperson Will Darnall. "It's been a seamless transition and benefits both entities with UCH being part of a national organization (Adventist) now with 48 hospitals."

Adventist and UCH formed a joint venture in 2007 to build the Wesley Chapel Medical Center on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. They broke ground on the site in December 2010. The medical center is projected to open in 2012. The new 200,000-square-foot facility will have 80 beds to accommodate patients in need of inpatient care.

Other hospitals in the former UCH network include Tampa's University Community Hospital, Pepin Heart Hospital and The Women's Center on East Fletcher Avenue, University Community Hospital, Carrollwood on Dale Mabry Highway, Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs and the Long Term Acute Care Hospital in Land O' Lakes.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Will Darnall, University Community Hospital


Tampa Bay Farmers Markets Re-Open For Fall, Winter Seasons

With autumn upon us, farmers markets across the Tampa Bay region are readying to share the harvest. It seems nearly every municipality has at least one. A few are new, and a few have made some changes. Here's a thumbnail sketch:

Realize Bradenton hosts a farmers market downtown on Old Main Street between Manatee Avenue and 4th Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday from October to May.

"We have built a community of vendors, residents, businesses, and most importantly, a community of dogs," says Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton's executive director. "We have live music every Saturday. The first Saturday features a chef demo, the second raffles and prizes, on the third Saturday we join with Mainly Arts, showcasing artists and craftspeople and featuring art from a Manatee County elementary school. On the last Saturday of the month we do kids' activities."

Isham says the market has generated foot traffic and revenue for Bradenton businesses since it opened a little over a year ago. "Ninety thousand people came downtown last year," she says. half of them for the farmers market. Next year 135,000 are predicted, due to more events we've planned. That equals projected consumer spending of $3.1 million for 2010-11."

Wesley Chapel is opening a new market at the The Shops at Wiregrass at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs and State Road 56 the first Saturday of every month starting in November.

According to Tiffany Ferrecchia of Tampa Downtown Market, the Winegrass market will feature produce, plants and eco-friendly arts and crafts as well as products featured at existing Wiregrass stores and restaurants.

Lizzy Lenk is a vendor who sells her Bag It Conscience products at several Tampa Bay markets. "I like going to the markets because it gives me an opportunity to talk to people and encourage them to do simple changes that can go a long way toward improving and changing the environment for the better," she says. "I find it a wonderful, creative, meaningful and fun way to earn my living. People absolutely love coming out. It gives them an opportunity to meet with friends and be outdoors. They can buy handmade, home-cooked or locally grown products. Many love not buying from the big corporations but supporting local crafters. We are fortunate that we have lots of these kinds of markets happening almost every day of the week. It brings life to the streets."

Other area markets include St. Petersburg's mammoth Saturday Morning Market;  Gulfport's Tuesday Morning Market; Clearwater's Open Air marketDunedin's farmers market; Largo's Heritage Village and downtown markets, Tampa's downtown market, Ybor Market and Seminole Heights market; Parksdale Farm Market in Plant City; Brooksville's downtown market, Hernando Beach's Open Market; and Lakeland's Farmer's Curb Market and Farmer's and Flea Market.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Sources: Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton; Lizzy Lenk, Bag It; Tiffany A. Ferrecchia, Tampa Downtown Market
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