Retailers eyeing new shopping center site

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BROOKSVILLE – Shoppers and restaurant-goers may be in store for a bonanza of new chains proposed for the new Cortez Commons shopping center.


At lease 10 retailers are included on a conceptual plan for 20 acres at the southwest corner of State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard.

They are: Longhorn Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Bob Evans, Wawa, Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW Shoe Warehouse, ULTA, Hobby Lobby, Mattress Firm and Vitamin Shoppe.

A conceptual plan means the developer met with the prosspective tenants, all of which expressed interest in building at the center. The developer creates an overall plan for the shopping center and submits it to the county building department, which then reviews it for such things as land development regulations, road network and infrastructure.

The developer, in this case Michael Collard Properties Inc. out of Winter Park, takes those comments back to the tenants, runs it by them and the process proceeds from there.

Some tenants may drop out; others may stay on board.

The site is somewhat unusual because it meanders along the perimeter of two major roads. It has access off S.R. 50 – by the CVS drugstore – and off Mariner Boulevard.

Pat Crowley, president of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, said the new retail development will cement the S.R. 50-Mariner Boulevard intersection as being the retail and entertainment hub of Hernando County.

Beacon Theatres, on the northwest corner of that intersection at Western Way Plaza, is in the process of building the county’s first large-screen format theater, designed to enhance the moviegoing experience. Burger King will soon open on an outparcel of the Western Way Plaza.

Crowley said all these options will attract consumers from outlying areas who will spend money here. No longer will people have to drive to Tampa or other areas for major chains, she said.

It also will bring much-needed jobs to the county, she said.

The developer of Cortez Commons will have to submit a traffic study, and the county will have to figure out the frontage road system to alleviate traffic.

State Road 50 is in the middle of a widening project, which will make the road four lanes in both directions. That project should be done in 2015.

The land is owned by the late Hardy Huntley, a real estate developer and entrepreneur who owned a couple of thousand acres in and around Hernando County.

Buddy Selph with Tommie Dawson Realty said he is not surprised that so many retailers are eying the S.R. 50 site. Some of the restaurants by that intersection are doing better in customer traffic than their counterparts in other locations, Selph said.

There also is a synergy that forms among retailers who want to be next to each other and capture that share of the market. Selph said that’s the reason why consumers will see home improvement stores, drug stores and car dealerships so close to one another, he said.

“I think this is just indicative of an expanding economy,” said Selph, who brokered the new Burger King deal. “And to my mind, this is just the beginning.”

The 20 acres is divided into two properties. In 2001, Hardy Huntley Properties Inc. purchased the tract with S.R. 50 access for $800,000, the county property appraiser’s website shows. The land is valued at about $1.49 million.

The second tract accessing Mariner Boulevard, bought by Huntley in 2002 for $850,000, is valued around $1.12 million, according to property appraiser data.

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