As your local community newspaper, one of the questions I get asked most often is “When will Wiregrass Ranch Blvd. (WRB) open from north of Chancey Rd. to S.R. 54 near Walmart (see map)?”
During a recent interview, Wiregrass Ranch developer JD Porter provided an answer to this question, as well as to many of the other questions people ask me most often — although not all of the answers are what I would call definitive (at least not yet).
For example, anyone who lives in the Estancia or Esplanade subdivisions in Wiregrass Ranch surely knows that WRB has been fully paved for months, but barricades situated north of Chancey Rd. and by Walmart’s Garden Center just south of 54 have prevented people from legally using it. But, Porter said, that problem should end soon.
“We’re finishing the landscaping and irrigation now,” Porter said. “I can’t guarantee an exact schedule, but it should be fully open by sometime in June.”
As for the Publix supermarket that is ready to begin building behind the Bank of America and Advance Auto Parts at the corner of WRB and 54, Porter said that dirt should begin moving within the next couple of weeks. And, he notes, as far as he know, there still is no plan to close the existing Publix store in the Hollybrook Plaza just east of the intersection of 54 and Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.
What About Next To The Mall?
The other question about Wiregrass Ranch that I get asked most often is about the large plot of land that has been cleared on S.R. 56, just east of the Shops at Wiregrass. Porter confirmed that although that lot was originally intended to be the second phase of the mall, the mall itself changed twice in just the last couple of years and that Porter’s development arm — Locust Branch, LLC — had purchased back the lot from Queensland Investment Corp. But sadly, although the land has been cleared, Porter said that no new development on the site was imminent.
“We’re just getting it pad-ready,” he said. “That is a potential $100-million asset and we are working to bring higher-quality, better users to that site and to make it more of a true mixed-use location.” He added that while he couldn’t yet make any announcements about what is to come to that location, “We have had a lot of talks with interested parties about it.”
Orlando Health Hospital Update
Also getting ready to begin moving dirt in the next couple of weeks is the Orlando Health Hospital, which will become the third hospital in Wesley Chapel when it opens in 2025. Porter said that there also will be a medical office building affiliated with the hospital that he will be able to show plans for soon. The office building will be located “on the fringe” of the planned Town Center in Wiregrass Ranch.
The Latest On Raymond James
Although Porter still couldn’t say when it will actually begin building, he said that the long-awaited Raymond James Financial — which plans to build 400,000-1 million sq. ft. of a large office campus to the east of the Fairfield Inn and the Audi of Wesley Chapel dealership — “has spent a couple of million dollars on site work already and could begin actual vertical construction by as soon as June or July.”
Cooper’s Hawk & Other Eateries
Perhaps the most eagerly awaited new building in Wiregrass Ranch is the construction of the new Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant (photo), which is now under construction to the east of the Culver’s on S.R. 56. Porter said he hopes Cooper’s Hawk will open by the end of this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how the construction goes.
He also noted that in the same general area as Cooper’s Hawk, there is another restaurant site available and that he continues to receive “a ton of letters of interest from equal-level restaurant users” for that spot. “Think about what’s near the Cooper’s Hawk in Tampa (on Boy Scout Blvd., near International Plaza),” Porter said. “It could be like any of those restaurants.”
In that case, it could be anything from Eddie V’s or Ocean Prime to Kona Grill and Del Frisco’s, but Porter wasn’t at liberty to say anything other than, “I think the community will be pleased once we’re able to announce something.”
Amberlin Apartments And…
A number of people also have asked about an age 55+ apartment community being built in our area. That community, which has recently begun vertical construction, is called Amberlin at Wiregrass Ranch.
Porter says, however, that there are other communities that also are planned in that large area with frontage on BBD.
And finally, Porter had no update at our press time about when the planned Town Center will begin building, but stay tuned for an update in the “not-too-distant” future.
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