If the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (WCCC) was looking for someone to end its 2017 series of Economic Development Briefings with a bright, energetic look to the future, the Chamber found the right man.
Kartik Goyani, the vice president of Metro Development Group, painted a picture filled with Crystal Lagoons, autonomous cars, hyper-fast internet speeds and even better education, health care and solar-, wind-powered and WiFi-enabled street lights.
While it isn’t exactly the flying cars many of us thought we’d be driving by now, Goyani’s presentation to local business leaders created a buzz that has many looking forward to the new year…and beyond.
By then, Goyani hinted, the first Crystal Lagoon in North America — at Metro’s new Epperson development off Curley Rd. — will be filled with water and frolickers.
He showed some drone video of the current state of the lagoon, but it was a picture of someone with a large hose standing in the lagoon, with its inner lining in place, filling it with water, that drew a few audible gasps.
“We are hoping to stay ahead of schedule so the lagoon opens up early next year,’’ Goyani said.
The new year also will see the hi-tech community project, billed as the first smart giga-bit development in the country — with lightning-fast internet speeds 200 times faster than most homeowners receive now — finally get an actual name. Goyani said the project was dubbed “Connected City” by the Florida Legislature after approving it as part of a 10-year pilot program, but that name was always just what Goyani called a “placeholder.” In January, it will be branded with a different name.
While the Crystal Lagoon is driving sales of homes “through the roof” in Epperson, it is just one of many amenities that Goyani says will make the Wesley Chapel community one the rest of the country will try to mimic.
The “Connected City” is a 7,800-acre area running north from Overpass Rd. in Wesley Chapel to S.R. 52 in San Antonio, and east from I-75 to Curley Rd., that will one day feature thousands of new homes and much more.
While Epperson will have as many as 3,000 homes upon completion, the “Connected City” project, which is expected to take 7-10 years to complete, will have as many as 37,000 new homes, up to 12-million-sq.-ft. of office space, a second lagoon in Metro’s Mirada development, and hundreds of dedicated miles for autonomous vehicles.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a project anywhere else in the U.S. that has that,’’ Goyani said. “We are creating something really really exciting in Pasco County that will draw people from everywhere.”
But, the Crystal Lagoons are the crown jewels of the “Connected City” project.
“We didn’t want to build a larger clubhouse, or a bigger golf course, we wanted to totally reimagine it,” Goyani said. “That’s what we did with Crystal Lagoons.”
As for the most commonly asked question about lagoon access — “Can we go, too?” —Goyani says that Epperson homeowners take precedence. Over the next 7-10 years those 2,000 homeowners in Epperson will pay for the maintenance of the lagoon.
While there are currently only 30 homes or so in the community, Metro Development will be picking up some of the tab to keep the homeowners’ maintenance bills low.
That may create some opportunities for controlled access to the lagoon, as members of parties or events held there.