By Adam Musgrave
Only a few years ago, Big Bend Rd. was a quiet country street whose biggest distinction was the power plant that sat puffing steam at its terminus. Now, that sleepy road is poised to see the most explosive economic expansion since the New Tampa region of the county.
Already home to an array of large retailers like Sam’s Club and regional powerhouses like Bealls, the area is currently enjoying an influx of new arrivals from service businesses like a Tuffy Auto Service Center, which just moved to the area from Goolsby Point to national retailer Marshall’s, which will be opening a 20,000 sq. ft. store in Summerfield Crossings on Thursday, May 9.
The YMCA has also taken notice of the opportunity presented by Big Bend Rd. and currently has plans to build a Southshore Recreation Center within the next five years. The proposed center will be located near Vance V. Vogel Park and will boast a 40,000 sq. ft. main building along with lacrosse, soccer and T-ball fields as well as two or three swimming pools.
Developers expect this project could attract up to 6,000 families to the area.
Conveniently, the Southshore area is also home to one of the largest and most ambitious residential developments in Newland Homes’ Waterset. This ongoing subdivision, which is also located just off Big Bend Rd., has enough room to accommodate more than 10,000 homes, according to developers.
And residents of the area both new and old will have plenty to do in years to come.
Nationwide Realty and Equity, Inc. are set to begin construction on the first phase of the Southshore Commons. The new town-center style mall is expected to eventually bring 1 million sq. ft. of retail space along with nearly 500,000 sq. ft. of office space, a 250-room hotel, a movie theater and meeting space to the area.
“The types of retailers we anticipate in our first phase … include a moderately priced department store, several retail ‘category killers’ typically found in outdoor centers, a cinema, various dining options ranging from sit-down white- tablecloth restaurants to fast casual dining options and many convenience-oriented retailers,” said Jay Miller, Senior Vice President of Equity, Inc.
Though he said it was too early for any specific stores to have finalized their leases, Miller continued by pointing out features of the new mall that will be unique among Hillsborough area establishments.
“Unique to Southshore Commons will be a public plaza connected by pedestrian walkway to the cinema that will offer strolling and outdoor dining opportunities,” he said.
When complete, the new mall will be comparable in size to Westfield Town Center in Brandon, which is currently the closest mall to the Southshore area.
In addition to all of the retail establishments that will be rooted along Big Bend Rd., Baycare Health Systems has already begun construction of a new hospital, titled St. Joseph’s South, that is scheduled to open its doors early in 2015.
The hospital will boast an emergency center, surgical platform, intensive care unit and mother/baby unit, according to developers. The 352,000 sq. ft. project is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area and has already prompted plans to construct 40,000 sq. ft. of office space across Big Bend Rd. for doctor’s and specialist’s offices.
With all of this construction planned and underway and with so much land still available for businesses seeking to fill new roles in the Southshore community, development of Big Bend Rd. as a commercial center for South Hillsborough looks to be just beginning.