In a tiny office tucked behind The Grove shopping center he recently bought for $62.7 million, Mark Gold is unveiling big dreams.
“Big, big, major,” he says. “This is major.”
Gold’s vision is all over the walls of the leasing office at The Grove, on blueprints and promotional materials.
There will be a family park, an amphitheatre for musical performances, a brewery, new restaurants, an indoor adventure facility, beautiful landscaping and lighting, and what Gold says will be the biggest shipping container park — think Sparkman Wharf, but on steroids — in the world.
There also is room for 400 homes, if Gold chooses to develop the additional acreage.
While others have, for too many years, seen a big box dead end office plaza with empty buildings and overgrown and unkempt land, Gold sees the future.
“This is a diamond that no one has touched for 10 years,” he says. “No one had the money to polish the diamond. That’s just crazy.”
The Grove, which opened in 2007 and whose current tenants include Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Michael’s and others, as well as the Cobb 16 Movie Theater, may be an afterthought to many locals, a shopping center that once had great potential before development stopped. Gold and his Mishorim Gold Properties promise that will change.
“The message is, The Grove is coming back,” says Gold, emphatically. “It’s not owned by the bank or an insurance company anymore, it’s owned by creative developers that do this already all over the U.S.”
As Gold lays out his plan, it almost sounds too good to be true. However, District 2 Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who arranged a meeting for Gold with county planners and administrators, loves the idea.
“I think he’s the real deal,” Moore says. “When he left after his presentation, there was energy and excitement in the room.”
Pasco’s uber-friendly-to-business county commission is likely to do what it can to make things happen fast. Many of the typical hold-ups — such as proper zoning and utilities — are all already in place.
Gold, who has now owned the plaza less than a month, isn’t wasting any time starting to create a destination that he thinks could serve as a downtown Wesley Chapel one day.
“This is not only about money, it’s about vision,” he says. “Let’s bring something to Wesley Chapel that people like to come to.”
Just a few days after his purchase, he already had signed leases for 15 of the 60 containers, or micro-shops, that will populate the land between The Grove’s office “village” and Outback Steakhouse. Moore said he was impressed to see that overgrown grass had already been moved and some of the area was already being prepped.
Gold is hoping to create a European-flavored market or bazaar, with an emphasis on locally-owned stores and boutiques, and he says that in about two months, the containers will begin showing up.
“Things are moving fast,” he says. “This is big in places like Europe, Amsterdam…you see it all over the place. In the U.S., it is fresh. And, it is going to be the largest one in the world.”
Each of the container “shops,” which are former semi-truck trailers that will be outfitted with solar panels, is 40-feet long (although there are options to split the office containers into two or even three separate spaces), and here’s the big news — he is renting them out for only $1,500 a month for an entire container, with limited up-front costs for design.
“If you have a dream, let’s make it happen!,” he says. “This is your mom-and-pop opportunity, your dream. I care about my tenants. I want to help people come to us. Let me help you.”
A family park for children also will be one of the key components of The Grove’s transformation, as will a 36,000-sq.-ft. indoor trampoline/adventure park (see pg. 14)..
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a part-owner of Surge Adventure Park, Gold says he already has Surge at four of his developments and that it is likely Brees will follow him to Wesley Chapel, too. Surge Adventure Park would be built near the Cobb 16 Movie Theater.
As we reported last issue, Double Branch Artisanal Ales, owned by Wesley Chapel residents, is expected to open in December, the first new project under Gold’s Mishorim Gold Properties.
“I think it is extraordinarily exciting for our community,” says Hope Allen, CEO of the North Tampa Bay Chamber. “It’s a long time coming. “It was disheartening to see (The Grove) not living up to its full potential over the last couple of years. I appreciate that new ownership is going to invest in it.”
Gold says he also has signed leases with at least four restaurants — pizza, sushi, gourmet hot dogs and frozen yogurt — for the currently mostly-vacant office park that he calls “The Village,” as well as a restaurant/duelling piano bar owned by Wesley Chapel resident Jamie Hess and his brother Joe.
“I met with him and was very enthusiastic and energetic,” said Jamie Hess, who signed his lease on Oct. 10. “I thought he had an amazing plan. I went home and researched his other properties and after that, I was sold. He’s going to make The Grove a huge success.” We’ll have a separate story about the piano bar in a future issue.
Gold has a reputation for investing in property that is undervalued and turning high-vacancy shopping and office centers into bustling, vibrant, family-focused entertainment destinations.
He bought the Lynnhaven North shopping center in Virginia Beach, VA, in late 2018 and quickly turned that around, with nearly $10 million worth of renovations and upgrades.
Whether you’re talking about the Regency Court Shopping Center in Jacksonville, or the Shoppes at Hickory Hollow in Antioch, TN, the DW Center in Newport News, VA, or a handful of other similar U.S. projects, Gold has swooped in to buy a failing shopping center and invested millions into transforming them.
And, the ebullient Gold is excited about The Grove’s prospects.
He says he has been looking to purchase land in the Tampa Bay area for years, but couldn’t find anything that suited him.
“It was like Mission Impossible,” he says.
He spent eight months negotiating to buy The Grove, when he says it usually takes him only about a month to complete similar deals.
The purchase included the 604,000 sq. ft. of existing shopping and dining space, as well as 1.3-million sq. ft. of retail and office space that he plans to build.
But, even better, The Grove is located in one of the southeast’s fastest-growing areas.
Not only are there thousands of homes at various stages of development within a 10-mile radius of The Grove in nearby communities like Mirada, Epperson and even Quail Hollow, but Wesley Chapel also boasts an average annual household income of $92,000.
The shopping center is located just off busy I-75, and can be seen by 100,000 drivers a day.
“I am in the middle of the all the action,” Gold says. “Right where I want to be.”
And soon, he hopes, where all of Wesley Chapel will want to be.
For leasing & more information about The Grove, contact email@example.com.