for the Deluge?
From aviation equipment to law
enforcement, Pasco prepares for
an economic boom.
of the land in Pinellas County already developed and developable
land becoming less available in Hillsborough, the pressure of
growth continues to spill northward into Pasco County. As the
Suncoast Parkway opens, providing access to a vast expanse of
land in the central part of the county, a development frenzy
is gobbling thousands of acres. And many of the developers,
who not long ago were just names on a wish list of Pasco economic
development visionaries, have well-established track records.
Teichman, president of Aviation Instrument Technologies
Inc. in Zephyrhills, likes engineering the gauges and
switch dials that fill airplane cockpits around the
on major new developments planned throughout Pasco, recently
presented at a meeting of the National Association of Industrial
and Office Parks, shows more than 20,000 acres designated
for future growth. In total, the land is earmarked for conversion
to 43,000 residential units, 8.4 million square feet of commercial
space, 5.3 million square feet of industrial, 5.2 million
square feet of office space and 1,120 hotel rooms.
an exciting time for Pasco," says Kathy Small, president of
the Pasco Economic Development Council and community relations
manager for Florida Power Corp. in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus
counties. "There's something about Pasco County that appeals
to people. They want to live here, maybe because there's a
little more space and our style of living is a bit more relaxed.
We're very conveniently located, just 30 minutes from Tampa.
And with the Suncoast Parkway opening it will be easy to get
to main attractions in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
We're close to the [Tampa International] airport.
can drive through parts of Pasco County and see rolling hills,"
Small adds. "You don't see that in many places in Florida.
We have very nice parks and libraries that the county commission
put in place years ago. There are a lot of positives about
living here. Now our focus is making sure that our people
have employment opportunities so they can work where they
number of employment opportunities are due to high technology
companies opening offices in Pasco. "We have a lot of technology
businesses that people are not aware of," says Small. "VLOC
[a subsidiary of Saxonburg, Pa.-based II-VI Inc.] is growing
crystals for laser technology, Evolutionary Vision Technology
in San Antonio does software development and Pall Aerospace
[a division of Pall Corporation of East Hills, N.Y.] in New
Port Richey makes filters for military helicopters. These
are quality companies going about their business very quietly
and wonderful employers."
Another is Aviation Instrument Technologies Inc., one of five
companies in the world that produces the gauges, dials and
switches that fill the cockpits of aircraft. These high-tech
components are being developed from the company's headquarters
at the Zephyrhills Airport. Dave Teichman, president, formed
the company two years ago with two employees.
to be located at an airport, since we're in the aerospace
business," he says. "We were living in New Tampa at the time
and I checked out Vandenberg Airport. But Vandenberg didn't
have the same facilities and Hillsborough County is a much
higher cost area. We have since moved out of Hillsborough."
enticement offered by the Zephyrhills Airport was, Teichman
says, "a very friendly airport environment. We have excellent
access all over the world and reasonable labor costs. But
mainly it was a pro business airport and airport industrial
currently has 17 employees who design and develop custom electronics
for aircraft and simulators. "We're unique," says Teichman.
"We do the smorgasbord of dials and switch panels in the cockpit.
Our instruments are used on the C-5 Galaxy (the largest airplane
in the world, used for military transport, manufactured by
Lockheed), the F-18 Hornet, E-2 Hawkeye, B-22 Osprey (half
helicopter and half airplane with a tilt rotor built by Boeing),
C-130 Hercules military aircraft and DC-9s and Boeing 727s
for Northwest Airlines."
on staff is an electronic technician, "involved in mechanical
and software development and electronics engineering," Teichman
says. "We haven't had any difficulty finding them. Most have
been local, although some have come from as far as Brooksville
and Orlando. This is not an overly regimented workplace. We
have a very creative environment and good creative opportunities.
We have fun projects to work on. That seems to do the trick.
Engineers like this stuff."
facility includes more than 15,000 square feet of office space,
engineering production, a research and development laboratory
and a hangar. "We do a lot of R&D here," says Teichman. "We're
very low production. This is specialty items, non-recurring
engineering. We have an expansion planned in 2002 to go to
40,000 square feet in the airport industrial park. We have
an interim build-out adding 7,000 square feet onto our current
building. We're adding an employee each month."
revenues are currently $1.5 million. "We expect to double
sales every year in the foreseeable future," Teichman says.
"I've been in this industry for years and struck out on my
own here. We have two competitors in the United States, one
in France and others that pop up now and again."
technology firm has had its eyes on Pasco and recently moved
from a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Tampa
to a new 48,000-square-foot facility in West Pasco Industrial
Park in Odessa. Florida Computerized Machining Inc., with
73 employees, manufactures parts for the aircraft loading
industry, as well as for microwave, satellite and Internet
communications companies throughout the nation.
been trying to move here for nine years but as we'd expand,
we'd invest in new equipment. It got so inefficient at our
other [Tampa] facility that we just had to make the move,"
says Greg Roan, the company's president. "I like this area
in general. We're just four miles from the Suncoast Parkway
and that will help tremendously with getting to Clearwater
the company had annual sales of $5.5 million. "This year we'll
be at $6.25 million and project between $8 million and $9
million next year," Roan says. "We have a contract now that
will be long-term, requiring installation crews. We're adding
employees for that and will add more in welding. We're running
three shifts now, which we didn't do at the old facility.
Within two months we'll add 12 to 15 people."
gearing up for more business, Roan is also preparing to acquire
other firms. "We hope to close soon on a Tampa company that
provides services we don't have right now," he says. "This
will make us more diverse for our customers and bring capabilities
in-house that we don't have. We'd build another facility for
that company. We can add another 40,000 square feet at the
back of this building."
years ago, when Roan started the company, "I rented 5,000
square feet and thought it would be enough forever," he says.
"In less than 10 years we were at 35,000 square feet and cramped.
I didn't want to limit myself here and say that 48,000 square
feet would be our max."
not placing any limitations on future growth, Welbilt Corporation
is already adding another 15,000 square feet of office space
and 2,000 square feet of warehouse space at its new technology
center in Trinity Oaks Commerce Park. This is the site responsible
for research and development for the international firm's
food service equipment. The research division of the company
relocated from Oldsmar two years ago.
added onto the technology building once and are in the process
of adding a second time," says Jerry Sank, the company's manager
of the technology center. A separate building has been added
at the technology center to accommodate the relocation of
the company's corporate headquarter offices from Stamford,
Another relocation from Oldsmar occurred when Stainless Fabricators
Inc. recently moved from its 18,000-square-foot manufacturing
plant to a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Suncoast Industrial
Park in Odessa. "I like this area," says Keith Binney, the
firm's president. "It's less congested. We built twice the
building for two-thirds the money you can in Pinellas, and
taxes here are 6 percent instead of 7. That makes a difference
when you're rolling in the materials that we do."
materials are used for manufacturing "a multitude of stainless
steel products used in the marine industry," Binney says.
"We're an original equipment manufacturer for companies like
Chris Craft, Monterey, U.S. Marine and Regal. We make bow
rails, ladders, any plate or tubular product on a boat built
out of stainless steel or aluminum."
currently has 40 employees and annual revenues of $3 million.
"We hope to go to $5 million," says Binney. "We're working
to be a 50/50 business in marine and commercial. We also do
exotic metal work for luxury homes and we work with Disney
and Universal. We did all the handrails in the Islands of
Adventure area, the Dr. Seuss ride and Poseidon's Fury. We
create exotic stainless steel water fountains and did the
lightning bolts at PSCU [Payment Systems for Credit Unions
Inc.] in St. Petersburg.
have a commercial division in this building," adds Binney.
"Our biggest thing here is bending of material. We have equipment
a lot of people don't have."
a subsidiary of Saxonburg, Pa.-based II-VI Inc., grows
crystals for laser technology in its two-year-old facility
in Trinity Commerce Park.
Manufacturing Inc. isn't bending metal but instead builds
the cases that protect valuable equipment during transport.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company has recently expanded
at West Pasco Industrial Park into a 15,000-square-foot facility.
"We started nine years ago in Tampa and moved here five years
ago," says Mike Sullivan, general manager. "We were in 8,000
square feet before. No one envisioned the growth that has
occurred. We've improved customer service and employee attitudes."
has 27 employees producing transit protective cases for specialty
equipment. "The rock music industry uses our cases," Sullivan
says. "But anybody in business can use our cases in some form,
especially for trade shows, the medical industry and computer
cases for CPUs and monitors.
exports go to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Canada," says
Sullivan. "The South American market is starting to grow quite
a bit. We do a lot of custom work. That's where customer delight
comes in. We put a lot of time into designing our product."
innovations have meant increased business and growth of the
corporate headquarters for Coastal Craftsman Aluminum Inc.
The manufacturer of swimming pool enclosures recently occupied
its new 22,000-square-foot building in Hudson. The company
has 140 employees, 80 of them working at the new corporate
headquarters in Pasco. Other offices are in Orlando, Sarasota
patented a pool enclosure system, Aqua-Closure, with sliding
screen panels for northern markets," says Bill Woodard, the
company's president. "We've installed it in Wisconsin, Michigan
and New York. The system holds up to snow loads because the
panels slide down."
Woodard sees a viable market for this new product, it's a
different product line that has spurred the current level
of growth at the company. "Our Alumi-Guard line of ornamental
aluminum fencing and gates is really taking off," he says.
"With this expansion we've brought a powder coating line in-house.
We were outsourcing that before. With this business we'll
employ an additional 50 to 60 people in the next two years."
revenues at the company are $10 million. "Our sales have tripled
in the last five years," says Woodard. "This is a result of
adding branch offices and the Alumi-Guard system. If the economy
stays the same, we should do $14 million, in 2003, with the
growth potential that Alumi-Guard has. And next year Aqua-Closure
becomes a priority."
like most everyone else in Pasco County, is looking forward
to the opening of the Suncoast Parkway. "It will help us with
access to Tampa," he says. "It should cut the drive time by
30 percent. We do a lot of work in north Hillsborough and
is not a Harley
Considering the 110-horsepower motorcycles built at Royal
Ryder Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. in Hudson, drive times
are not as much of a consideration. The concern is more along
the lines of avoiding speeding tickets. The manufacturer of
custom-built motorcycles recently expanded into a 10,000-square-foot
facility in County Line Industrial Park. "Our bikes are totally
different from a Harley," says Randy Manescalchi, the company's
president. "Our tires range from 200 to 250 mm. Their largest
is a 130-mm. tire. Our bikes have a 5-inch longer stretch
chassis, and Harley motors are 60 horsepower."
tag doubles that of a Harley, as well. The six-employee company
builds "about 35 bikes a year," Manescalchi says. "It takes
about two to three months to build a bike. Our customers choose
the wheels, motor size, tire width in back, paint scheme and
alligator or leather seat. We never have an inventory. Everything
is built to our customers' specifications."
tripled in size with this expansion. "I like the area," says
Manescalchi. "It's affordable. I hope the Suncoast Parkway
will drive up the value."
echoes the thinking of several large developers mobilizing
to build residential, commercial and office space along the
developer Ken Morin is in the process of getting regulatory
approvals for Suncoast Crossings, a development of regional
impact (DRI) that includes 688 acres that he expects will
be zoned for 1,319 residential units, 1.2-million square feet
of office space, 625,000 square feet of commercial space and
250 hotel rooms.
Group, developers of the Channelside entertainment complex
in downtown Tampa, will develop the office component at the
southeast corner of State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway.
"The North Pointe at Suncoast Crossings will be a first-class
corporate office park," says John Twomey at the Hogan Group.
"We've begun conversations with companies and will either
build a single-tenant build-to-suit or a building that is
at least 50-percent preleased."
has high hopes for the location. "That's going to be the new
interchange and destination for Pasco County. The southern
tip of our property touches the Hillsborough County line,"
he says. "It's the first exit into Pasco from Hillsborough
and it's still just 20 minutes from Tampa International Airport,
with no traffic lights in between locations. This is the next
along State Road 54 in each direction are a number of newly
planned residential communities," Twomey adds. "Going north
there are no prime commercial corners left in Hillsborough
County, so this is the next one to the north. It's literally
minutes from Cheval and Calusa Trace. It's a natural progression
to the north and we're excited about being in Pasco County."
likes the pending partnership with developer Ken Morin. "I
was involved with selling Morin the Tampa Jai Alai site that
he developed into a Home Depot and a Sam's Club," he says.
"We've worked together on various projects. He's done a great
job of assembling this property and taking it through the
regulatory process and making it available to developers like
SR 54, West Pasco Industrial Park continues to grow as new
companies relocate to Pasco.
to the 16 lots we've just opened, we'll add another 45 lots
in the next 12 months," says Bill Weatherford, vice president
at Marlin Commercial Inc. "We have plenty of room to accommodate
industrial demand. There's steady interest. We've sold more
lots in the last two years than we did in the previous 10.
Barring unforeseen changes in the economy, we'll see fairly
steady growth. The time is right to be in West Pasco. Everybody
knew this was coming."
Other projects soon expected along SR 54 include Long Lake
Ranch, a mixed-use development of 1,941 residential units,
two million square feet of retail space and 304,000 square
feet of office space. And Clearwater-based E&D Land Corp.
is in the process of obtaining regulatory approvals for Sun
Lake Centre, plans for which include 1,340 residential units,
783,000 square feet of retail and 340,000 square feet of office
are now interested in doing office park development in Pasco,"
says Mary Jane Stanley, executive director at the Pasco Economic
Development Council. "No one has been willing to tackle that
until now. Now we're coming up on more radar screens.
companies want to be close to Tampa but don't need to be in
Tampa," Stanley says. "They want access to Tampa International
Airport, universities and a large labor market. When you look
at the numbers, it's more affordable to be in Pasco. We have
lower impact fees, competitive land prices and large parcels
of developable land. Corporate executives are moving into
our higher end residential communities. The Wesley Chapel
area is just booming and we still have land available."
admits that with all the growth in the area the public school
system has significant challenges ahead. "There's a crunch
on our school system," she says. "And there's a lot of demand
on our infrastructure. State Road 54 is being widened from
U.S. Highway 41 to I-75. That will open soon. And Interchange
56 will open later this year."
Suncoast Parkway interchange north of SR 54 is beginning to
bustle, too. Houston-based GBY Inc. is seeking regulatory
approvals for Suncoast Corporate Park, a 480-acre development
at the Suncoast Parkway and SR 52. "We're positioned in the
path of progress," says Gene Santella, a commercial real estate
broker at DUTTERealty.com, the company in charge of marketing
the office park. "GBY has owned this site for years. There's
interest in this area because a lot of the land along SR 54
is pretty well spoken for in terms of residential and retail."
includes 460 residential units. "Development is driven by
rooftops and they're not there yet," Santella says.
coming and not just at Suncoast Corporate Park. The Conners
family, which owns 8,600 acres at SR 52 near Land O' Lakes,
is planning to develop Connerton, a mixed-use development
that will include 15,000 homes, two million square feet of
commercial space, 1.5 million square feet of office space
and 1.1 million square feet of industrial. "They've set aside
195 acres for education and 27 acres for a hospital," Stanley
says. "This will be a 25- to 30-year build out."
group of local developers, with partners in Texas, Las Vegas,
Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, is developing Indian Lake
Ranch in the same general area. Plans for the 712-acre mixed-use
development include 991 residential units and more than eight
acres for commercial space. "This site has the 75-acre Little
Moon Lake and rolling hills," says Henry Blanton, president
and general partner at American International Alliance Ltd.
Partnership. "It's a 20-minute drive from Citrus Park Town
Centre and 35 minutes to Tampa International Airport and the
Westshore business district.
area around the Suncoast Parkway is going to take off," Blanton
says. "South of Ridge Road the government has purchased 22,000
acres that will not ever be developed. That land will be turned
into state and county parks. Our homesites will front on a
lake or conservation area. It will be a couple years before
the commercial development begins."
east of I-75
East of I-75 along SR 52, One Pasco Center has enjoyed "considerable
activity," says Al Fluman of Brooksville-based Pearson Industries.
"Shortly, the State Department of Transportation will improve
the intersection of SR 52 and I-75. That will enhance the
area further. We're close enough to serve and be served by
the entire Tampa Bay area. Land prices are more user-friendly
and the general appearance and atmosphere of the corporate
park are attractive. We're not that far away from the rest
of the action."
continues its spec building program of 10,800-square-foot
warehouses that are then leased or sold. "We currently have
construction ready to begin on a warehouse when we receive
permits," Fluman says. "S&R Fastener Inc. has purchased a
two-acre lot and we'll start construction on a 10,800-square-foot
build-to-suit for them. They're coming from Largo. We're also
going to build a 20,000-square-foot warehouse for International
Trading & Tool Inc. They're currently in Pinellas County."
developer also builds at the Zephyrhills Airport. "We're building
a spec warehouse there," says Fluman. "We'll use the same
program that Pearson Industries has used at One Pasco Center
over the past three or four years. This is the size building
that we've found to be acceptable by a larger group of small
manufacturers or distributors who move in with little or no
modification. It would be nice to have some buildings at both
locations right now."
are also plans to build Copeland Industrial Park in Zephyrhills.
"We've pulled the permits to build a 25,000-square-foot speculative
warehouse," says local developer Al Biston. "We have 40 acres
for putting up more buildings. We're so confident that we
brought in city water. We bore the cost of that because we
knew it would be more attractive to people coming in."
not just developers who are anticipating growth in Pasco County.
at Pasco Hernando Community College are building a $6-million
law enforcement training facility at the Dade City campus.
"It will contain a mock courtroom, specially designed holding
cells, interrogation rooms with one-way mirrors, creating
a real-world learning environment," says Lynn Rothman, the
college's director of marketing and public relations. "Local
law enforcement officials are working with the college to
recruit and train their employees. We're growing with the
county and have to keep up to serve the needs of people in