The park would be located north of Interstate 4.
As the northeast Plant City subdivisions of Varrea and North Park Isles come closer and closer to reality, another developer has decided to act on the city’s favorable growth market.
Canada-based Yensid has purchased 2,000 acres north of Interstate 4, beating out Varrea by almost 1,000 acres, to become the largest land deal in Plant City’s history. The plan: nine subdivisions surrounding an amusement park.
“Many developments currently are following the live-work-play pattern, with homes situated around parks and village greens with cafes, local shop and eateries,” Yensid CEO Mickie Mous said. “We wanted to distinguish our development by taking it a step further and providing something that has never been done before.”
The development, tentatively called Strawberry Gardens, will have about 1,000 acres of thrilling rides, including a kids zone, and contain everything from caricature artists to overpriced restaurants.
“With Plant City between Busch Gardens and the Orlando hub of theme park entertainment, we thought it was the perfect location,” Mous said. “Not only will it provide a new place for residents to live, it will benefit the local economy by drawing in tourism dollars.”
The biggest feature of Strawberry Gardens will be a 450-foot tall strawberry-themed ferris wheel that rivals that of the Orlando Eye. The Orlando Eye is 400 feet tall and carried its first passenger in April 2015.
“What better time to unveil these plans than on the one-year anniversary of the Orlando Eye,” Don Duk, of the city tourism board, said. “Plant City has the Florida Strawberry Festival. Why can’t it have an an amusement park too?”
New city road improvements have coincided with the development process. There is a light being placed at the intersection of Thonotosassa Road and the I-4 on and off ramps. This will be one of the exits tourists can use to access Strawberry Gardens.
“Our roads and law enforcement are used to handling the traffic that the festival brings in,” Duk said. “This year, the festival brought in over half a million visitors. With a few more updates and grants we will be able to handle this kind of wear and tear more frequently. Our roads need work anyway.”
Because of the county’s new initiative to make the Tampa Bay area more hospitable to entertainment companies and establishments, the tourism board was able to approve the development without resident input. The development is also found to be consistent with the city’s northeast master plan, which has pegged the area for growth as Hillsborough County will nearly double its population in the next 20 years.
Residents in the know are outraged that the development was approved.
“This has to be some kind of joke,” G.G. Goof said.
Happy April Fools' Day!
Every year, it is a tradition to run an April Fools’ Day story — or two — to trick our readers. This year, April 1 landed on a publishing day, so we were able to create a fake cover with several stories and teasers that are in no way true.
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