WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Residents of Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel have something big to look forward to in the next decade — the construction of a brand-new downtown area.

  • Avalon Park - Wesley Chapel will include residential, commercial, office space
  • Pasco BOCC recently approved $33 million incentive package for project
  • Once finished, APWC expected to contribute $85 million annually to county economy
  • More Pasco County stories

Pasco County commissioners recently approved a $33,250,250 million economic development incentive package to aid in the construction of Avalon Park - Wesley Chapel.

Located off of SR 54 and a half mile east of River Glen Boulevard, the project is expected to include 2,695 residential units, 165,000 square feet of Class "A" office space, and 190,400 square feet of commercial development. Construction is expected to take place during a ten-year period on 215 acres of land within the Avalon Park West master planned unit development.

Downtown construction is expected to cost $785 million.

"When I moved here from Switzerland more than 25 years ago, it wasn't actually the mountains which I missed in Florida," Beat Kahli, CEO of the Avalon Park Group, told commissioners at last week's meeting. "What I missed is ... that I could live in a town where you could live, learn, work and play, which means that if you wanted to satisfy a daily need, you didn't have to go into your car."

There are now multiple Avalon Park communities, including the original in Orlando.

"Somebody may stop me and say, 'Well, I haven't left for three months.' And I think that's the goal," said Kahli.

Pasco County Economic Growth Manager David Engle said 3,386 seats will be available to students through New River Elementary and Pinecrest Charter School.

"The plus there is that people don't have to travel a half a mile round trip to take their kids to school. Everything is on the property," Engle said.

According to Engle, it's estimated half of residents' trips will remain on-site, cutting off-site trips on surrounding roads by 14,000 trips per day.

"I continue to believe we can't deal with our traffic challenges if you don't find a way to keep people living where they're working, having them playing, having their kids go to school. So, instead of building subdivisions, we have to build towns," said Kahli.

Avalon Park West residents said they're ready for the new downtown.

"Oh, it would be awesome -- really nice," said Ashwin Joshi, who moved to the community at the end of last year. "We don't have to go all the way to downtown Tampa, so we can just hang out here, have dinner."

"I'm really excited because I'm a first-time mom, and I'm always looking for things to do with my son. So, I'm super excited to have the opportunity to have that and to take him around and do different things," said Zuly Diaz.

Part of the cooperative development agreement approved by the commission will allow for tax increment financing to be used for public infrastructure improvements. They include building a spine road, parking decks, and transit related infrastructure.

According to the county, those improvements will enhance public transportation use, improve the financial contribution to the local economy, and help decrease off-site traffic.

"Traffic can get horrendous at times, so it's going to be really beneficial," said Avalon Park West resident Joel Diaz.

Engle said once the project is finished, Avalon Park - Wesley Chapel will be home to 1,065 permanent jobs, have a $42 million payroll, and contribute $85 million a year to Pasco County.