It is no secret this part of the country has become one of the most sought-after to live, and when residential growth explodes as it has in SE Hillsborough County, commercial growth is soon to follow. As seen by the logos, many of these are name-brand chain operations.

According to Mark Sneed, senior vice president at SRS Real Estate Partners, whose firm represents the new plaza located at the northwest corner of Symmes Road and U.S. Highway 301, the trend we are seeing toward more chain operations is not a corporate takeover. He clarified information about his tenants and updated leasing requirements for commercial properties that helped explain the influx of more name-brand stores around town.

With commercial development, there is a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work and negotiations that need to occur before the construction stage. Assisting tenants in securing a location along with assisting developers in securing the financing necessary to fund the building of the structures are vital for the success of the project.

Even though we are seeing restaurants and shops considered chain stores, Sneed reminded me, “Many of these are franchises that are owned and operated by local residents. They are still ‘ma-and-pa operations’; however, they now opt to go the franchise route in order to quickly attract business and provide the property owner with a proven business plan.” The owners of both Knockouts Haircuts as well as Tropical Smoothie Cafe are local residents, with Smiles Dentistry providing the credit-worthy tenant necessary to secure financing for the build.

He told me demographics such as median age, household income and population within 5 miles, as well as changes in shopping trends, tightening of lending criteria and zoning restrictions, all play a role in the location of new shops and restaurants.

For example, with his Symmes Road project, Sneed had a much-requested tenant lined up for the parcel, but county zoning restrictions prohibited a drive-through at the location.

Changes in shopping trends include the Amazon effect, where online orders have significantly altered the need for physical locations in industries such as books, music and apparel. Developers have steered away from strip center and toward mixed-use projects, converting commercially available space into residential uses. Lenders want and sometimes require low-risk tenants (credit tenants) in place before funding new construction projects.

Those are some of the reasons we are seeing more brand-name tenants in our area, yet many of these remain locally owned.

Starting north at State Road 60 working south and moving from west to east on a map, here is a partial list of new places you will be able to visit within the next several months. Keep in mind, these projects can take 24 months or more from rezoning to completion.

Brandon is poised to get a new Chick-Fil-A at South Hilltop Road and State Road 60, with Scooter’s Coffee under construction on State Road 60 at North Knights Avenue. Further south, Causeway Boulevard is set to see three new restaurants, Qdoba Mexican Eats at Falkenburg Road along with a Panera Bread and Chipotle under construction further east at the old Cheddar’s location next to Ford’s Garage.

Taco Bell has rights to a location at U.S. Highway 301 and Falkenburg Road, and Cheddar’s is working to bring a new location to Bloomingdale Avenue. Also coming to Bloomingdale Avenue will be a Duck Donuts and iSMASH amusement center in Bloomingdale Square as well as an Andy’s Frozen Custard near the Walmart Supercenter.

Gibsonton Drive gets a Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express at the Shoppes of Lithia near the I-75 interchange, with a new Starbucks planned for a location near Mathog Road across from Lowes.

The aforementioned plaza at Symmes Road and U.S. Highway 301 calls for a Smiles Dentistry, Knockout Haircuts, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

Starbucks’ second new location will be at Big Bend Road and Waterset Boulevard, and U.S. Highway 41 and Elsberry Road are slated for a new First Watch and Tijuana Flats along with Trulieve and AT&T.

A third Starbucks is ready to break ground off U.S. Highway 301 and Balm Road in Wimauma, with a Keke’s Breakfast Cafe opening in Sun City Center at South Bay Plaza.

Non-chain restaurants opening include a Canopy Road Café off FishHawk Boulevard in Lithia and a Banh Mi Factory off Big Bend Road. And finally, a new EggTown restaurant is coming in the FishHawk area, and, saving this until the end, a new Peach Cobbler Factory will be somewhere in Brandon. Stay tuned.

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Brian Bokor
Brian Bokor has lived in the Valrico area since 1997 and started writing freelance for The Osprey Observer in 2019. Brian (appraiser) and his wife, Sharon (broker), run a local real estate company (Bokors Corner Realty) as well as manage the Facebook page Bokors Corner, which highlights local-area commercial and residential development.