LUTZ — Construction is underway on a $15 million expansion at Compark 75, the first major industrial buildings to go up in Pasco County since the recession hit.
“The bulldozers will be out there next week, and then we’ll be fast and furious,” owner Larry Morgan said. “We’ll put in the roadway and do all the earthwork first before you start to see things go vertical. We should be completed sometime in the second quarter of 2014.”
He said the two new speculative buildings, which will total nearly 135,000 square feet, are needed because he has leased the last available space in the first phase of the industrial park. The 220-acre complex stretches from Wesley Chapel Boulevard to Interstate 75 at the midpoint between State roads 54 and 56.
“When I first went there, I thought the location was perfect,” said Cindy Pickering, founder of Your Pro Kitchen, which will open its newest franchise at Compark 75. “It has easy access in and out. It just makes total sense.”
The business offers a fully-equipped commercial kitchen to dozens of caterers, food truck owners and food-based businesses. Clients can access the facility any time of day to prepare and package food. They can get supplies delivered to the site and even install their own refrigerators.
“It’s really a food service incubator,” Pickering said.
She opened her first location in Largo in 2008, and the concept proved an immediate success. She expanded in 2010 and decided to franchise the business. “We’ve sold four franchises in less than six months,” Pickering said.
When she approached Morgan about leasing space at Compark 75, he was intrigued. “He took the time to come to our Largo location to see it in person,” Pickering said.
Morgan said he didn’t understand the concept at first. “I had no idea what I was going to find, so I popped in there unannounced,” he said. “When I saw it, I thought, ‘Gosh — what a creative idea.’ I was very impressed with the cleanliness and the professionalism.”
Land O’ Lakes residents Jan and Jack McNerney will run the Lutz/Wesley Chapel franchise, which is expected to open in December. Each has been trained to assist clients acquire the proper certifications to legally prepare and sell food products.
“We can offer and teach the management course, which is required for leasing space,” Jan McNerney said. “We require a minimum 6-month lease. This is for food professionals.”
She said the access to I-75 makes it an ideal location for Tampa’s ever-growing fleet of food trucks. “They usually prepare food on their trucks, but in order to get an inspection, they have to have a commercial kitchen,” she said.