The Pasco County Commission recently gave final passage to a complex set of land use changes to the 480-acre development known for homes with fairway views, condo and hotel properties, courses designed by legendary golf pro Arnold Palmer and academies for students pursuing golf and tennis careers. The development is located in Wesley Chapel, Fla. A “pedestrian-friendly village” with story buildings with some retail and restaurants on ground floors in the front and apartments above and behind the retail will be created on a 35-acre parcel.
Ever since Miami real estate investor Mast Capital bought Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla. in March 2022, the new owners, residents and county officials have been hashing out details for the project, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Dozens of meetings later, the Pasco County Commission on July 11 gave its final approval to a complex set of land use changes to the 480-acre development known for homes with fairway views, condo and hotel properties, courses designed by legendary golf pro Arnold Palmer and academies for students pursuing golf and tennis careers, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The four-hour public hearing July 11 mirrored several that have happened in recent months, the Tampa Bay Times reported. County planners, Saddlebrook residents and hotel/condo owners, lawyers and Mast Capital officials tried to reach an accord on plans for new construction and upgrades to common areas.
The approved plan breaks the changes into four areas.
The first includes a 35-acre parcel where the current driving range exists, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The plan there, according to the developer, is to create a “pedestrian-friendly village” that will include multi-story buildings with some retail and restaurants on ground floors in the front and apartments above and behind the retail.
It calls for 75,000 sq. ft. of commercial, retail and office space, 465 apartments and additional townhomes, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The developer has also agreed to build a section of new roadway.
In the second section on a new property Mast purchased, the owners plan to develop the nearly 20 acres with 25,000 sq. ft. of commercial, retail and office space, along with 120 townhomes, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Access will not be allowed into Saddlebrook and the property users will enter and leave the site from a signalized intersection.
The third area is within the existing Saddlebrook resort area in the current walking village, the Tampa Bay Times reported. There, plans call for a new clubhouse, restaurant and retail uses as well as other recreation areas and renovations to existing amenities.
In the fourth area, the original two 18-hole golf courses designed by Palmer will be turned into 27 holes, or three nine-hole courses with a new designer, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The driving range will be relocated and all of the current golf course areas will be restricted to golf and open space, said Barbara Wilhite, representing the developer.
Wilhite, who represents numerous projects before the County Commission, said the willingness of Mast to restrict what will be allowed in Saddlebrook was not something she had ever seen a developer do before.
As the negotiating came down to the final hour July 11, members of the Save Saddlebrook Coalition tried to eke out a few more concessions from the developer, the Tampa Bay Times reported. They sought better guarantees that Mast would have resort improvements done before they could start building the new multi-use town center planned where the current golf driving range is located.
“Why wait so long to begin renovations,” asked resident Larry Barbetta, representing the coalition. He also expressed continuing concern about the density of the mixed-use area.
While the idea didn’t gain commissioner support, the agreement does require Mast to have all the new amenities started before the town center apartments begin and sets percentages of resort work that must be done as that mixed residential and commercial area moves forward, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“We thank the county commission and community of Pasco County for its approval and support of our plans to further enhance and elevate the Saddlebrook Resort. We share the goal of restoring Saddlebrook’s glory and reclaiming its position as a world-class resort,” said Jordan Kornberg, managing director of Mast Capital in a written statement.