DADE CITY — Anyone who has ever played Monopoly knows one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the board is Park Place.
Tampa-based Metro Development Group is rolling the dice on Pasco County, dusting off plans for a massive new community on the former Epperson Ranch. And Wesley Chapel’s new Park Place will be the first community in the U.S. to feature Crystal Lagoon, a man-made 8-acre swimming pool with its own private beach.
Originally developed in Chile, Crystal Lagoons have been built in 60 countries ranging from Australia to Egypt — the largest is 30 acres. Metro President Greg Singleton said he wanted to offer a unique amenity that would differentiate his communities from other real estate projects. Park Place is the first of four such projects that will be featured in the Tampa market.
“When you see them in person, it’s breathtaking,” he said. “What’s important is that the community is going to be affordable. The homes will be priced in the mid-$200,000s.”
The lagoon would hold up to 18 million gallons of water. Singleton said the preliminary design calls for a water obstacle feature, a swim-up bar, volleyball courts, a waterslide tower and a boat launch. “You can kayak or paddleboard,” Singleton said. “You could even use a small sailboat.”
The patented technology keeps the lagoons clear and safe at a fraction of the cost of operating a traditional swimming pool. They are designed to use less water than a golf course. “And it’s so clear, it’s like holding up a bottle of Zephyrhills Spring Water,” Singleton said.
Construction is slated to start in early 2015, along with the first phase of Park Place. Commissioners approved the rezoning for the 590-acre segment of the former Epperson Ranch last week. The 1,742-acre ranch was once slated for nearly 4,000 homes and 250,000 square feet of retail space.
Metro bought the entire ranch and its entitlements from Lennar in late 2007 while Pasco’s housing market was in the midst of a historic collapse. The developer is selling 1,051 acres - including land on King Lake - to Standard Pacific Homes, which also rezoned its parcel last week for nearly 1,800 homes.
The gated community would have a community dock and private boat house amenity center on King Lake.
Clarke Hobby, attorney for Standard Pacific, said the company is planning to offer homes at a higher price point, similar to the style of homes available now in Estancia at Wiregrass Ranch, where home prices top out in the $800,000 range. “It will be a lovely community,” he told commissioners last week.
Park Place is approved for 1,516 homes; the first phase will have 371 lots. Metro will begin construction on the new home lots and on the extension of Overpass Road next year. The developer ultimately will be responsible for completing the unfinished segment of Overpass Road, which will give drivers access to the future interchange at I-75. Construction is scheduled to start on the $55 million interchange by 2020.
Singleton said Pasco’s second Crystal Lagoon will be built in a community called “Mirada” on the former Cannon Ranch property at I-75 and State Road 52. Metro has already met with county planners on the project and filed a preliminary site plan with 20 acres set aside for the lagoon amenity.
In Hillsborough County, Metro is planning a Crystal Lagoon at a new development near Wimauma. The community hasn’t been named yet. Metro hasn’t released the location of the fourth Crystal Lagoon community.
Singleton said each neighborhood homeowners association will be able to decide whether to allow any public access to the lagoon. “It’s not a water park, it’s designed for the residents,” he said.