With more than a million visitors since it opened in 2017, and a wealth of hockey tournaments, AdventHealth Center Ice (AHCI) is booming.

In fact, it’s booming enough that a northern-based hockey retailer is willing to do what pre-AHCI was probably unthinkable – set up a store in Florida.

Pure Hockey, which has more than 50 locations across the country, is building a 7,500-sq.-ft. store in the Cypress Creek Town Center, which could be considered something of a coup for Wesley Chapel and the Tampa Bay area.

Can a standalone hockey equipment store survive in the Wesley Chapel area? We’re about to find out, as Pure Hockey is getting ready to build a 7,500-sq.-ft. store on the north side of S.R. 56. (Photo: Yelp)

The largest hockey retailer in the country, according to its website, is making its first foray into Florida, and building only its second store south of its Kirkwood, MO location (the other “southern” store is in Dallas).

The hockey shop seems like a golden idea, considering the popularity of AHCI, which hosts thousands of hockey players a year, including high school and adult leagues. 

Gordie Zimmermann, the general manager of AHCI, said he was unaware of the plans to build a Pure Hockey about a mile west of his skating facility, which sells hockey equipment in a space it rents out to Rinkside Sports, which also has a location at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Otherwise, there aren’t many options for local hockey enthusiasts, and a lot of the hockey merchandise and equipment business is done online, Zimmermann says, who added that it will be interesting to see if such a stand-alone store can thrive in Florida. 

Headquartered in Boston, MA, Pure Hockey sells every hockey product imaginable, from NHL apparel to hockey sticks, skates, protective equipment and goalie equipment. 

A DIFFERENT LOOK: While the arrival of Pure Hockey is good news for the growing local ice hockey community, new homeowners should be getting similar news as the unique El Dorado Furniture works its way through the approval process.

The planned Land O’Lakes/Wesley Chapel store, boasting 70,000 sq. ft. of space, will be located on the west side of Wesley Chapel Blvd., across from the Cypress Creek Town Center. It will be the 13th El Dorado store in Florida.

Instead of the traditional showroom stocked with furniture, El Dorado promises a different experience with its Boulevard showrooms, which are set up like strips of old-fashioned city streets, with benches and street lamps lining the path.

According to its websites, El Dorado Furniture was established in South Florida in 1967 and is the largest Hispanic-owned furniture retail enterprise in the U.S. It also offers same day delivery, and its top-selling brand is Carlo Perazzi, best known for its chic mattresses, chairs and tables.

NEW STUFF IS OPEN!: The Cypress Creek Town Center continues to round into shape, with department store Burlington, bargain store 5 Below and arts & craft chain Hobby Lobby recently hosting grand openings, and HomeGoods scheduled to hold its Grand Opening event on Sunday, April 14.

Burlington and 5 Below, which are located right next to each other, both officially opened on March 29.

Five days before opening its doors, Burlington made an impact on the local area by donating $10,000 to Turner/Bartels K-8 school in New Tampa, just south of County Line Rd.

The money donated goes directly to teachers, who can use it for school supplies and activities as they please.

“This is really a Burlington initiative, but we tie in very very closely with the Adopt A Classroom program,” said Todd Abrams, the regional vice president of stores for Burlington. “We were looking for a local school in the community of the new store that we’re opening. We really want to give back to the community.”

Todd Abrams, the regional vice president of stores for Burlington.

Formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington is headquartered in Burlington, NJ, and has over 630 stores in 45 states nationwide. It has four other locations in the Tampa Bay area: two in Tampa, one in Brandon and another in Clearwater.

Abrams, who lives in Wesley Chapel, hinted that the newest location may be his favorite. “I’m especially excited to be able to open a store right in my own community,” he said. 

The 5 Below chain offers a variety of toys, tech, beauty and sports items, to name a few, all for $5 or less. It has more than 700 stores in 33 states in the U.S., including eight in the Tampa Bay area.

Hobby Lobby held its ribbon cutting on March 18. The store was Hobby Lobby’s 865th, and its third location in Pasco County, joining the stores located in Zephyrhills and Port Richey.

MORE OPENINGS: By the time you read this, the gas and convenience store Wawa and uber-popular fast food chain Chick-Fil-A (photo above) on S.R. 54, east of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., might both have dates set for their openings. The two much-anticipated locations look like they are having a contest to see which can be completed sooner, as the progress on both of them has been pretty rapid.

At our press time, both newcomers looked just about ready, with “Now Hiring” signs displayed at both sites.

And, for those keeping a watch out for even more new places to eat, there are lots of places still in the permitting pipeline working on final approval, like Bubba’s 33 (going in in front of the Ashley HomeStore on S.R. 56 east of I-75), which had its site plans approved last month.

To the west of Bubba’s 33, just past the I-75 interchange on the TPO (south) side of S.R. 56, Main Event (an entertainment center with bowling and a restaurant), Rock ‘N Brews (created by KISS legends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley) and Saltgrass Steakhouse have all had their site plans approved and will be built right next to each other. 

They will join Longhorn Steakhouse, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen along that south side of S.R. 56.

LEXINGTON OAKS NEWS: The Learning Experience, a franchise childcare/preschool founded in 1980, is nearing completion at the northeast corner of Lexington Oaks Blvd. and Post Oak Blvd., just off Wesley Chapel Blvd. (S.R. 54).

The nearest Learning Experience location, in New Tampa just south of County Line Rd., was recently chosen as the company’s top new franchise, receiving the Rising Star Award.

MORE APARTMENTS ON THE WAY: East of The Learning Experience, on Post Oak Blvd., Parc at Wesley Chapel, a 248-unit Class-A apartment community offering one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes with elevator access, received approval Feb. 25 to begin building; the apartments are expected to be open by sometime this fall.

A Parc at Wesley Chapel spokesperson says its community will feature Smart Home technology, granite countertops, a resort-style pool, a pet park and Electric Vehicle charging stations.

Coming on line a little sooner is the new Tapestry Cypress Creek apartments (above), which could have its first building open later this month or in early May. 

According to its website, Tapestry Cypress Creek (by Arlington Properties)is a luxury apartment community that will offer brand new 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom apartments. Each home will feature chef-inspired kitchens with 42” modern flat panel cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, plank flooring, walk-in closets, 9-foot ceilings, and screened patio/balconies. Full-sized washers and dryers are included. The community is smoke-free.

Tapestry Cypress Creek’s resident clubhouse features a fitness center, Yoga studio with Fitness on Demand, and a sports lounge.  Adjacent to the clubhouse is the saltwater pool with an outdoor pavilion and fireplace. Tapestry Cypress Creek is a pet-friendly community that offers our furry friends a leash-free pet park.

Tapestry Cypress Creek (2300 Tapestry Park Dr., Land O’Lakes) is now renting. For more info, stop in, call (813) 949-9199 or visit TapestryCypressCreekApartments.com.

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