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UNION72 opens in Wesley Chapel, plans second location a month later

Just four weeks after opening their barbecue restaurant, UNION72 in Wesley Chapel, owners Jeff Martin and Bharat Chhabria are already planning their second location.
 
"We are fortunate and blessed in that our business is already exceeding our expectations," Chhabria says. "We thank our loyal customers for that. We've had customers travel up to see us from as far south as Sarasota, so the thought of a second location came up rather quickly."
 
Martin, who also founded The Brass Tap, and Chhabria, a fellow restauranteur, opened UNION72 in mid-November at The Shops at Wiregrass in a 2,000-square-foot space located at 2000 Piazza Avenue, Suite 150. It's between Cantina Laredo and The Brass Tap.
 
The idea behind the restaurant is to create "an elevated barbecue experience," combining traditional barbecue techniques with modern culinary innovations. The menu emphasizes unique ingredients and fusions.
 
"The response has been extremely encouraging, and we have been very well received," Chhabria says. "A quick look at our Facebook reviews and Yelp reviews will show that 5-star reviews are the most common. Great feedback on both the food quality and service levels. Couldn't ask for more."
 
Yelp reviewer Sarah D., for example, says customers who try the restaurant won't be disappointed.
 
"If there is one thing that is hard to find in Tampa, it's great barbecue," she writes. "This new spot in wiregrass mall is just what the area needed. I love their long table with the site of their open kitchen. I think it's always great to see the staff of restaurants interact in the kitchen. While there we ordered the chopped brisket and pork and it was delish!!"
 
Prior to opening, Chhabria says the owners used social media -- Facebook and Instagram  -- to spread awareness of the restaurant. Now, word of mouth seems to be the strongest marketing tool.
 
"We've even spoken to customers at dinner that said they are here because their friends came in earlier in the day for lunch and loved the place. The same day," Chhabria says.
 
Although Chhabria says the pair can't disclose the exact locations they're looking at for their second restaurant because of ongoing negotiations, he explains that they've narrowed their sites to a couple of places in the greater Tampa Bay area.
 
" … we can say that these locations are based in strong communities like Wesley Chapel, which will allow us to participate as a local neighbor," he says, adding they'd like to be up and running with the second restaurant in 4-6 months and that it will be similar to the first location.
 
"We have something here that works, and our customers love it," he says. "We would like to keep our operating model the same -- high quality but different/innovative barbecue with superlative standards of service. We may learn a couple of things in the next few months that we can incorporate in the next location, but largely speaking, why fix something that's not broken?"

Elevated barbecue restaurant UNION72 to open at The Shops at Wiregrass in November

A new restaurant opening at The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is taking barbecue up a notch.

UNION72 plans to open in mid-November in a 2,000-square-foot space previously occupied by 100 Montaditos. It's located at 2000 Piazza Avenue, Suite 150, between Cantina Laredo and The Brass Tap.

Brass Tap founder Jeff Martin and fellow restaurateur Bharat Chhabria joined forces with Chef Geoff Zukosky to open UNION72. They declined to disclose their total investment in the restaurant.

"Wesley Chapel is a strong community with an affinity for innovative concepts," says Chhabria. "As an example, Martin's first Brass Tap is located in Wesley Chapel and is now a national chain."

The idea behind UNION72 was to create "an elevated barbecue experience," combining traditional barbecue techniques with modern culinary innovations, Chhabria says.

"Barbecue is inspiring because it is clean," he says. "With barbecue, it is difficult to hide the quality of the product and makes for a lean protein. It is also one of the faster-growing segments in the food industry today."
 
UNION72's menu emphasizes unique ingredients and fusions. There's "The Ribs," which are cooked Memphis-style, rubbed with a house-made dry rub and marinated overnight, then slow-cooked. For the more adventurous foodie, there are sandwiches like "The Conquistador," comprised of Spanish spiced slow-smoked pork, pulled and topped with chimichurri, caramelized onions and a fried egg.

The restaurant also offers house-made sauces, like white barbecue, sweet barbecue, smoked tomato barbecue, Brazilian barbecue and more.
 
Chhabria says the food represents worldwide inspiration, from American food trucks to Asian street vendors.
 
"The barbecue space has been lagging behind other concepts when it comes to adopting global flavors and spices," he explains. "Yet, meats are naturally suited to absorb flavors, rubs and seasonings. Such an elevated experience is already making its way across the country. UNION72 aims to be the first to launch the barbecue version in Tampa."
 
Restaurant hours will be Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. You can check out the menu online and follow the restaurant on Facebook.

Developers expect to start hotel construction at Cypress Creek Town Center after New Year

Visitors to Wesley Chapel, about 20 miles north of downtown Tampa, will have a new place to stay in 2018.
 
Construction on the Hyatt Place Hotel & Conference Center is expected to begin in early 2017. It will have 130 rooms, free Wi-Fi, and 24-hour food offerings. It will also bring about 60 jobs to fast-growing Wesley Chapel, according to Dilip Kanji, president of Impact Properties, which is developing the hotel with Sierra Properties.
 
"It's important for us because Pasco County is a great up-and-coming community," Kanji says, noting the 2012 opening of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and the expected opening of Florida Hospital Center Ice this fall. "Our formula always has been to go into areas that are just starting to grow."
 
The hotel is part of the first phase of development at Cypress Creek Town Center, an approximately 500-acre mixed-use project started by Sierra Properties. Tampa Premium Outlets opened at the site last year, followed by Cheddar's, Chick-fil-A and Culver's restaurants.
 
Costco, BJ’s Brewhouse and Longhorn Steakhouse are under construction around the outlet mall, and Ford’s Garage, Pollo Tropical, Wendy’s and Taco Bell are currently in permitting, according to a statement from Sierra Properties.
 
The first phase of the Cypress Creek Town Center development also calls for the completion of 230 multi-family luxury apartment units, according to the statement.
 
Hyatt Place & Conference Center will be located across from the outlets. The conference center will offer about 6,000 square feet of space for high-tech meetings and other functions. The hotel will also have a 24-hour gym featuring cardio equipment with LCD touchscreens and free ear buds.
 
Kanji says the hotel is expected to open in the first quarter of 2018.
 
"We're looking forward to bringing the first Hyatt to Pasco County," he says.

Dade City experiences new investments in downtown

Dade City, known for its quaint downtown and small town charm, is experiencing quite a development boom. 
 
New city hall and police station
 
One of the biggest projects recently unveiled is a new municipal complex. The 22,000-square-foot building located on Meridian Avenue houses both city hall and the police department. Paid for with reserve funds, the $6.6 million project makes life easier for residents and government employees alike.
 
“Employees are now under one roof,” says Dade City Manager Bill Poe. “Previously city hall staff were in two separate buildings, which caused citizens, developers and visitors to often have to go between buildings to accomplish a simple task.”
 
In addition to streamlining things by having all of the offices in the same location, the project also involved implementing new technology into the police department. Upgrades include state-of-the-art forensics room, a secure sally port, new interview rooms and a safe room for victims.
 
Poe says other city projects are on the horizon including an extension of the Hardy Trail, Beauchamp Pond expansion and downtown storm water improvements.
 
Flint Creek Outfitters
 
This is the second store in Florida for the outdoor specialty shop, with its other location in Ocala. One of the newer proprietors in Dade City, Flint Creek Outfitters is located at 14129 7th St. The store not only offers an array of camping and fishing products, but a lifestyle. With guided trips, monthly fly fishing competitions and owners with a rich history living with nature, the store promises to take you on an adventure. 
 
Shoppes of Dade City
 
When the first Publix in Dade City opened last year, it became the anchor of The Shoppes at Dade City, a strip plaza managed by Crossman & Company. With a total of 54,000-square-feet of retail property the plaza has a plenty of space for business owners. Aside from the Publix, there is a nail salon and a Chinese restaurant already open.
 
Other developments taking place around town include a new medical practice at Meridian and 10th Street, which is currently under construction. Florida Hospital Zephyrhills has obtained a permit for the space, however no other details are available at this time.

Smart Gigabit Community coming to Pasco County, first in U.S.

A developing neighborhood in Pasco County will have the distinction of being the first planned “Smart Gigabit Community” in the United States to be built from the ground up.

Tampa-based Metro Development Group, which has developed planned communities that utilize the latest innovative technologies across the state of Florida since 2003, will drive planning and development for the new “Connected City Corridor.”

Innovation group US Ignite, which was established in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, designated the area a “Smart Gigabit Community.”

The nonprofit group will work with MDG, which has also developed a partnership with Pasco County, on the project.

Mike Lawson, Director of Land Development for MDG, praised the project for being “the first of its kind in the country.”

Lawson, who is working together with MDG VP of Operations Kartik Goyani to lead the “Connected City” team, “values the opportunity to work with US Ignite” to plan the project.

The “Connected City Corridor” will be located between Wesley Chapel and San Antonio in southeast Pasco County. Preliminary development work for the new community, located in a special planning area bordered by State Road 52, I-75, Curley Road and Overpass Road, began in late 2015.

Areas called Epperson Ranch, Cannon Ranch and Ashley Groves will be built up as residential developments part of the new community.

The Connected City project will be unique from the few other “Smart Gigabit Communities” in the U.S.  because those cities, such as Kansas City and Cleveland, were retrofitted with Gigabit Internet access; the new Florida community will be planned around a fiber network that provides Gigabit Internet access from the start.

“This project gives Metro Development and Pasco County the possibility to create a better future that will accommodate what's next in connectivity,” Lawson says.

Additionally, Lawson says, the Connected City Corridor is expected to “create economic development for the area, with new businesses and residents moving to the area.” 

Based on results in other connected cities, the area is poised to attract businesses, retailers and residents. Along with new services and Gigabit applications, US Ignite will work with MDG and Pasco County officials to make the new community visible to tech-savvy companies who may be looking for a new location.

“Gigabit technology is transforming the business landscape around the country, and this new community will be one of Florida’s top destinations for companies looking for the advantages this connectivity can provide,” Goyani said in a press release.

New outlet mall opens in Wesley Chapel later this month

Tampa Premium Outlets is getting ready to open later this month in Wesley Chapel.

Simon Property Group, which operates 86 outlets around the world, designed and will manage the new Wesley Chapel mall.

“The Tampa outlet is beautiful,” says Les Morris, spokesman for Simon. “It has a Key West feel to it with palm trees and fountains. I think people are really going to enjoy the atmosphere, in addition to the many shops the outlet has to offer.”

With 90 stores opening, Morris offers a list of some of the store names including: Ann Taylor Factory Store, Bass Factory Outlet, Calvin Klein, Columbia Sportswear, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren and Vera Bradley.

The 441,000-square-foot shopping center will also feature a food pavilion with diverse dining options to choose from.

With the new outlet opening, hundreds of jobs have been created as well.

“Many of the jobs have been filled, but between part-time and full-time positions we expect to employ about 800 people,” Morris says. “That number doesn’t include the jobs that were created during the construction phase. This project has and will create a lot of jobs for the Tampa Bay area.”

Tampa Premium Outlets is scheduled to have its grand opening October 29th.  The grand opening will include a weekend of special activities and giveaways, along with a guest appearance by television personality Bethenny Frankel.

The new outlet is located at 2398 Grand Cypress Drive in Wesley Chapel. For a complete list of stores visit the outlet’s website

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
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