Developer eyes SR 50-Mariner Blvd. site

The 20-acre commercial parcel at the southwest corner of State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard has had a ‘for sale’ sign on it for years.

Its age is evident from the weathered look of the sign and the slightly fading lettering.

But today, there is a new sign adjacent to the old one. This one is yellow and alerts nearby residents that the property will be discussed at Monday’s planning and zoning meeting.

And, according to the property owner’s representative, there is finally a developer who wants to develop the tract, which has access off S.R. 50 – by the CVS drugstore – and off Mariner Boulevard.

Peter Creighton, spokesman for commercial landowner Hardy Huntley — one of the biggest commercial landholders in the county — said there is a developer interested but could not divulge details.

Creighton said it would be multiple retailers, some of whom may not currently be in Hernando County.

“Hopefully, it will be a very nice development,” Creighton said.

One of the retailers whose name crops up every so often is Olive Garden.

Creighton joked that he’s heard the same thing but was unable to say if the time is finally right for the Italian restaurant chain.

There is also speculation that the Wawa convenience store chain is shopping around for a site in Hernando County as part of a major expansion into west central Florida.

Wawa recently opened a new store off U.S. 19 in Pasco County, on property owned by Huntley.

Creighton said to get the site development-ready, he must update the master plan on the property, which he will seek to do Monday. County commissioners would also have to approve the plan the following month.

Then comes the permitting process, Creighton said.

Local real estate broker Gary Schraut said there is a resurgence of commercial activity in Hernando County right now.

Dormant for many years because of the economy, developers and retailers are now willing to take a chance, Schraut said.

Also, the widening of SR 50 may be conducive to retail activity. Once completed in 2015, SR 50 will be six-laned from U.S. 19 to the Suncoast Parkway.

Creighton said that widening project will certainly be attractive to developers but cited the commercial uptick as the reason behind the master plan updating.

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

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

Planning and zoning commissioners will consider the Huntley property at their meeting which begins at 9 a.m. Monday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

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