Development booms along state road 56 in wesley chapel electricity 24 hours


Workers cleared trees and pastures to construct the highway through the Cypress Creek area, designed to relieve traffic congestion and connect Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to Interstate 75. Officials also envisioned the road would one day sustain major commercial and residential development.

Those who drive east on SR 56 from SR 54 will see a new Mercedes-Benz dealership and a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. Bonterra Parc, a luxury apartment building, just opened, and the Ridge at Wiregrass Ranch, a 565-home luxury subdivision, will be complete soon, closely followed by a new elementary school to serve the area. A Holiday Inn Express & Suites is also in the works.

"It’s been a long time coming," said Hope Allen, director of the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of these projects were put on hold, so a lot of these projects had been planned for a long time, and they’re now just coming to fruition."

Pasco, on the other hand, has nearly three times as much land as Pinellas and has only about 500,000 people in it, many of whom live on the coast. The low population density means there’s plenty of empty space, especially in the eastern half of the county.

But community leaders aren’t looking for just any kind of development to fill it. J.D. Porter, owner of Wiregrass Ranch Inc., which oversees a master plan to build up the area of SR 56 east of Bruce. B. Downs, said Wesley Chapel has the demographics to pull in developers who want to invest in high-end housing.

Wesley Chapel households made, on average, $81,311 in 2013, about $15,000 more than the average Florida household, according to census data. Developers see that as a sign that the market can support $1,500-a-month Bonterra Parc apartments and half-million-dollar homes at the Ridge.

It helps that there are relatively high-paying jobs in the area at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and the Wiregrass Ranch campus of Pasco-Hernando State College, which was completed in 2014. Raymond James Financial Inc. is also under contract to purchase land along SR 56 east of Bruce B. Downs, though it has not closed on it. The company has said it doesn’t plan to build for three to five years.

Several big-box retailers have expressed interest to the county to build on lots near Tampa Premium Outlets. Costco is considering a site just west of the outlet mall, and Kohl’s is in talks to build within Cypress Creek Town Center, a retail and business park in the works across SR 56 from the outlets.

"The Ridge is bringing more rooftops to the area, which to commercial developers is important because they’re looking for consumers to buy their products and services," said Richard Arkin, vice president of GL Homes, the builders of the Ridge.

It works the other way, too. Proximity to I-75 means commercial developers who can’t find room in Hillsborough can build large retail centers in the Cypress Creek area and pull crowds from the urban centers to the south and even Ocala and Gainesville.

Already, the I-75 and SR 56 interchange can get backed up, and Colson said it will only get worse as development continues. And, he said, as more asphalt is laid, water — and with it, pollutants — will run off into Cypress Creek, a tributary to the Hillsborough River, which supplies drinking water to Tampa.

In addition to the interstate, the Bruce B. Downs corridor has been integral to the explosion in Wesley Chapel, as development crept north along the road from New Tampa. Developers and planners consider the corner of SR 56 and Bruce B. Downs to be central to the growth.