Developer Mark Gold isn’t exactly sure what made him settle on creating a one-of-a-kind shipping container park as part of his next big project.
He says he knew he wanted something green, and he wanted something small, and he wanted something unique.
“I wanted it to be different than everyone else,” he says.
It sure looks like that will be the case.
Conceptual plans for the park, which will officially be named Krate by Gold Box and be home to nearly 100 tenants running their businesses from modified shipping crates, were officially filed with Pasco County last month.
Krate is just one part, but perhaps the crown jewel, of The Grove project, which is transforming the old, worn-down retail center into a major Wesley Chapel hub. Mishorim-Gold Properties, a partnership between Gold and Mishorim Real Estate, bought the 200+ acres, including all of the existing structures in The Grove, for $62.7 million last year.
Phase 1 of Krate will be built on nearly 7 acres of land just west of I-75 and east of The Grove’s big box retail stores like Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Krate plans to have 87 tenants (many using multiple crates), 172 parking spaces, and a stage for bands and competitions that will be flanked by a pavilion and a children’s playground.
But, the biggest selling point, says Gold, is the opportunity for local residents to open their own businesses.
“We are building small spaces to give big opportunities to people,” Gold says. “We want this to be more mom and pop.”
He has 27 restaurants already with signed leases, although he says he is hoping for more service-based businesses. Most of the crates are already under contract and will start arriving in a few weeks.
He expects Krate will be up and running in 6-8 months.
“People are going to drive one hour, one-and-a-half hours to see this concept,” Gold says. “If I had built a shopping center, people would say ‘What is the big deal?’ But this is a shopping center built with containers with parking and lights and sidewalks and activity, lots of activity.”
While often compared to Sparkman Wharf at the Channelside Bay Plaza in downtown Tampa, Gold says he has visited the Tampa crate park and says “they do not compare.” He compared Sparkman Wharf to food trucks with no wheels where you eat outside, whereas Krate’s containers will be actual restaurants with many offering indoor and outdoor seating.
“This concept, I think, is the only one like it in the world,” Gold says.
At The Grove, where Gold is filling once empty buildings with fitness and yoga studios, a craft brewery, a dueling piano bar, Italian eateries and even an axe throwing bar while dubbing it “The Village,” variety is the spice of life, and he takes great pride in what Krate will offer.
Among his 27 restaurants are zero chains and places offering Cajun, Chinese, Colombian, Cuban, Dutch, French, Japanese, Italian, Puerto Rican, Thai and Vegan food, as well as other places serving cupcakes, ice cream, falafel, sandwiches, juices and even a mojito lab.
“People will drive here just for the variety,” Gold says.
He is so confident the concept is ready to take off, he says he already has plans to develop other Krate by Gold Box container concepts across the country. His second site, in Raleigh, NC., where he has two other developments, already has been picked out.
Meanwhile, here in Wesley Chapel, Gold’s office, in the heart of The Grove property that he is confident will one day be considered downtown Wesley Chapel, is bustling. He moves from one meeting to another, exchanging info with daughter Keren, the property’s leasing representative. There seems to rarely be a time where a prospective tenant isn’t talking to one of them, or waiting their turn.
“I love it,” he says. “People want something else, something different, and we are going to give it to them.”