Friday, Apr 25, 2014

Cortez Commons retail center moves forward in Brooksville

Published:   |   Updated: December 19, 2013 at 06:31 PM

BROOKSVILLE - Peter Creighton doesn't make many appearances at county commission meetings.

But on Tuesday, the man behind Huntley Properties, paid board members a visit to thank them for the cooperation he is getting from staff and, in particular, assistant county administrators Ron Pianta and Brian Malmberg, for working to create an ambitious new commercial project on the southwest corner of Mariner Boulevard and State Road 50.

Commissioners then approved the final plat and construction drawings for Cortez Commons. Now, the project winds through other county departments, which will look at a traffic study and other infrastructure needs.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said the proposed development bodes well for the economic well-being of Hernando County.

"I think the investment they're making at this time is a good signal," Sossamon said.

Cortez Commons, as it will be called, has already attracted the interest of 10 chains that would like to open a location at the busy corner.

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

All 10 retailers were on a conceptual plan already submitted to the county's building department. A conceptual plan means the developer met with the tenants, all of which expressed interest in building at the center. The developer creates an overall plan for the shopping center, 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.

Creighton said he realizes the complexities of the project, especially given the location and the traffic modifications that will have to be made.

"This started with a meeting with (the county administrator) 13 months ago," Creighton said. "The realization is that much closer now."

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell said Cortez Commons will benefit the area.

"We'll look forward to all those new stores," Russell told Creighton. "I'm excited. I know a lot of folks are."

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