The Pasco Board of County Commissioners (BOC) was busy in June.

During meetings on June 7 and June 28, the commissioners voted unanimously, and without any debate, to approve performance-based incentive deals for two large projects expected to completely transform the one-time sleepy I-75/S.R. 52 intersection known previously for its truck stops.

The first deal approved was the big one — on June 7, the BOC paved the way for a new development on 965 acres at the southeast corner of 75/52.

The project, called the Pasco Town Centre, is expected to generate 5,988 jobs and will include 4 million square feet of industrial uses, 725,000 sq. ft. of office uses and 400,000 sq. ft. of retail uses, plus room for 300 hotel rooms and 3,500 homes.

According to the agreement, the mixed-use project will be, “The I-75 corridor’s gateway project into Pasco County.”

The county is contributing $55.8 million in incentives to project developer Columnar Holdings, $46.2 million from ad valorem tax rebates and $9.6 million from the Penny for Pasco fund. All of the payments will be deferred and accrued in a county escrow account for the company until 1 million square feet of industrial/office space has been built.

Thanks to the Pasco Town Centre project, the county is expected to gain more than $386 million in estimated property tax revenue through 2061 (40 years) and a total economic output of $604 million.

The benefits to the county are “profound,” David Engel, Pasco’s director of the Office of Economic Growth, told the BOC.

“This is the most productive agreement that I’ve brought forth to date to the Board,” he said. 

Engel said this project comes in at $9.60 per square foot, while the Rooker project, two 200,000-sq.-ft. Industrial warehouses approved for I-75 and Old Pasco Rd. in San Antonio that broke ground in 2021, was $9.80 a square foot.

As part of the deal, Columnar will have to provide $70 million in infrastructure, like roadways and sewer and water lines.

“When you put it all together — the road, the utilities — that’s well over $200 million before the developer can even get $1 out of the escrow account,” Engel says. “That’s a very significant gesture and a commitment to the project the developer is making.”

County commissioner Ron Oakley calls the projects a “win-win” for the county.

Engel also said the new development will be a boon to the area and to companies that are looking to move to Pasco County. The county is eager to accelerate the project because, “We do not have suitable space for companies to come in to that area right now, and we have tremendous demand for that,” he said.

The Pasco Town Centre is within the Connected City at the north end of Wesley Chapel, and Michael Wolf of Columnar Holdings said the goal is to make his project synergistic with the Connected City when it comes to local travel.

“We think it’s so important to truly get that activation, to have folks be able to run, bike, golf cart, what have you,” he said. “If we don’t have those components, we won’t be able to activate that space.”

The Town Centre still has to go through the rezoning process, but Phase One is expected to be completed by June 30, 2024, with the final two phases finishing up by the end of 2026 and 2028, respectively.

Northpoint Project

A second, smaller project was approved by the BOCC on June 28, with commissioners voting unanimously in favor of a $6.3-million incentive package for a project on roughly 218 acres near the northeast corner of Interstate 75 and State Road 52.

Northpoint Development LLC is building a 1.4-million-sq.-ft. build-to-suit site expected to yield 2,400 jobs when completed. 

Build-to-suit projects are typically facilities specially constructed to meet the specifications of a particular user, who currently is unnamed.

According to Clark Hobby, who represents Northpoint, the original site was smaller but the developer acquired an additional 56 acres to the north.

With nearly $10-million in costs just for road improvements, the developer asked for $6.3 million in assistance.

“This is an exciting project,” Hobby said. “It is being designed and will be constructed for a major regional distribution center that will include a significant number of jobs.”

If the end-user backs out, the county won’t lose any money. But, Hobby said his client is so confident in the deal, “we’re planning on starting construction in late August, to early September.”

Hobby said the building will be a half-mile wide, and Engel said the total size will be roughly equivalent to two football fields.

The county’s Office of Economic Growth calculates that the Northpoint project will generate $19.1 million in ad valorem taxes over 20 years, and inject $282 million into the Gross County Product (GCP) during construction.

Once completed, the county says the annual recurring benefits to the GCP will average $227 million, and the return on investment is 195:1 for every dollar the county is providing in assistance.

Both 75/52 projects are in Commissioner Ron Oakley’s District. He supports both projects and called them a win-win for the area.

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