By Adam Musgrave
On Wednesday, February 6, County Commissioners opted for the second time to delay a vote that would authorize $8.25 million in incentives to bring Bass Pro Shops to the Brandon area.
The proposed site would be located at the intersection of I-75 and Adamo Dr. and would include a 140,000 sq. ft. store that would anchor the Estuary – a complex that would include office space, a hotel, and more than 200,000 sq. ft. of additional retail space. Most of the incentive money would be earmarked for road improvements in the area to accommodate the massive development, according to the Board of County Commissioners.
Proponents of the deal argue that it would bring 1,500 permanent jobs to the Brandon area along with $113 million in annual economic development.
“We have been hoping for a store in the Tampa market for a long time and feel we have found the absolute best retail location in the market to build our new super outdoor store” said Johnny Morris, Founder of Bass Pro Shops.
The proposal has garnered a great deal of controversy, however, with activists appearing at each of the last two meetings with pins that read “Say No to Bass Pro.” Detractors maintain that the move will threaten local businesses who will be eclipsed and forced out of business by the national corporation. They also argue that any jobs created will be minimum wage retail jobs and that, for the BOCC to incentivize such jobs goes against its stated goal of bringing higher earning tech-oriented jobs to Hillsborough County.
Meanwhile, Pasco County representatives have scheduled a meeting with the retail giant on Friday, February 15 to discuss the possibility of changing the new store’s location to that county – likely near the Shops of Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.
“I believe a store could end up there if things fall through in Hillsborough,” said Commissioner Ken Hagan referring to the incentive vote. Hagen has been instrumental in creating the proposal and luring Bass Pro Shops to the Brandon area.
The vote is now scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 20, and both sides are expected to weigh in before the tally is taken.