A central hub of activity-as it has been defined a number of times by the Hillsborough County Planning Commission and what has been a point of conversation amongst Brandon residents and business owners for sometime now-is gaining more and more interest, making its way up the ladder of priority.
In recent years, activity centers have been looked upon as an effective tool that local residents, politicians and members of the planning commission can use to shape the county’s comprehensive plan while focusing on the growth and development inside Hillsborough County’s urban service area.
According to Pedro Parra of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission the “activity center” or “central hub” in Brandon is a concept where people can live, work, shop, socialize and enjoy entertainment all in walking distance of one another.
“With all the growth in the Brandon community, this is an important project for the commission, but one that takes some time to plan,” said Parra.
While the precise location of the planned central hub of activity has not yet been mapped out, members of the Brandon Community Plan have come to the conclusion that such a location would be most beneficial in central Brandon instead of areas less developed.
Parra said that the county’s eyes are on an area south of S.R. 60, west of Parsons Avenue, east of I-75 and north of Lumsden Road. This location is actually home to a number of existing community staples such as the Westfield Brandon Mall and the Brandon Main Street Project with nontraditional homes, shops, parks and a number of shopping plazas.
“This project continues to be an important part of the future growth of the Brandon community,” Parra said.
The idea of steering clear from undeveloped areas for the central hub was emphasized by Hillsborough County Executive Planner Melissa Zornitta, who said that a downtown-like hub activity center gives developers an incentive to build where the county already has infrastructure.
“We want people to be able to shop, work and live within walking or bicycling distance. The idea is to cut down on driving while bringing people together, handle the growth in the community and benefit both residents as well as the businesses in the Brandon community,” Zornitta said.
Both Parra and Zornitta agreed that with all of this on the table, however, this central activity hub concept is just that. The first step toward creating such a place is what the commission is doing right now, including the targeting of areas, while members of the planning department mule over the findings and make their analysis.
For more information about the Brandon activity center, please visit www.planningcommision.org.