When District 2 Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore argued for his apartment moratorium, he promised people that there were more than enough multi-family projects coming. He was opposed to land zoned for commercial and retail being turned into land slated for sprawling apartment complexes, saying there were plenty of entitlements for multi-family projects already in existence.
Moore may have had a point.
At the moment, there are more than 20 apartment complexes, ranging from the usual to those promising “luxury” and even “elegant” living locations in Wesley Chapel’s three zip codes — 33543, 33544 & 33545 (see map on pg. 7), that are either making their way through permitting, under construction or recently completed.
If you count other projects just outside the border of the Wesley Chapel area, that number grows. There are apartments coming to the Zephyrhills side of Eiland Blvd., just across the street from Wesley Chapel. In Land O’Lakes, Zephyrhills and San Antonio, that number exceeds 30 rental communities.
All in all, Wesley Chapel could be home to nearly 10,000 apartment dwellings in the next two years, if not sooner.
And, there are more projects not even in permitting yet, large multi-family communities headed to Wiregrass Ranch, the Two Rivers area on S.R. 56 and Epperson.
“The message I was attempting to send is justified by the number we’ve seen either come out of the ground or that are already (in permitting),” Moore says. “And there’s a ton more parcels that already have the multi-family zoning. There’s people holding out or not ready to develop and are holding on to those entitlements. That’s a lot more.”
While Moore continues to worry about apartment oversaturation, the debate still goes on in the County Commission. As recently as Oct. 11, members sparred over whether apartments were more important than jobs.
District 3 Commissioner Kathryn Starkey argued that the county has “hundreds of thousands of jobs coming…these people will need someplace to live.” District 2 Commissioner Ron Oakley, who represents the northern and easternmost parts of Wesley Chapel, agreed.
Eric Garduño, the government affairs director for the Bay Area Apartment Association, says Pasco County has always been near the bottom of statistics when it came to apartments per person. And the Tampa Bay area in general has always adopted zoning ordinances that favored single-family home developers over apartments.
“I think that’s starting to change in the sense that you can’t build single-family and single-family only to meet the housing needs as a community and a nation,” he says.
Wesley Chapel Blvd., which has expansion plans, is home to a number of large incoming complexes. The area around the bustling Grove Entertainment has close to 1,000 units on tap, including many that are already taking lease applications, and the corridors on S.R. 54 and 56 towards Zephyrhills have already attracted a number of projects.
“I think, generally speaking, policy makers really need to look at attracting jobs, and how that goes hand-in-hand with housing,” Garduño says. “You are starting to see it in a lot of places.”