By Matt Wiley
After years of legal battles, it looks as if the Cypress Creek Town Center Development of Regional Impact (DRI), the undeveloped property at the interchange of I-75 and S.R.s 54 & 56 in Wesley Chapel, will finally be home to an outlet mall to be built by the Simon Property Group.
In a press release on May 14, Simon announced that it would be opening seven new locations of the popular clothing outlet Saks Fifth Avenue “OFF 5TH” at many of its new and existing outlet malls. Among the new locations on the list is a mall called Tampa Premium Outlets, located in Wesley Chapel, more commonly referred to until now as the Cypress Creek Town Center, which is scheduled to open sometime in 2014.
However, a spokesperson for the Pasco County Land Development Department claims that, “There have been no official plans submitted to the county from Simon about the mall.” The only information the office would confirm was that Simon had met with Pasco officials a few months back, as previously reported in the Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News.
The press release is the first hard evidence that plans are finally moving forward for vertical development of the site, which appears to finally have overcome the many environmental issues that have kept the project at a halt since 2007.
The site has been sitting in pre-development limbo since 2007, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revoked the building permit it had issued to the Richard E. Jacobs group—the development company that owns the property—after muddy runoff water was discovered leaking into Cypress Creek, one of the primary sources of drinking water for the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel areas.
The environmental watchdog group the Sierra Club of Tampa Bay sued the Army Corps for violating the Clean Water Act in 2007 and the lawsuit ended up making its way to a Federal Appeals Court in November 2011. The decision by the Appeals Court reversed the previous ruling that revoked the Jacobs Group’s mall permit and allowed development to continue once the Corps figured out a way to protect the wildlife corridor that stretches through the property.
The Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News will provide updates on the project as they become available. Between issues, you can always check WCNeighborhoodNews.com for our daily news updates.