A Fortune 500 company, a new water treatment plant and SR 39 utilities may now be on the way thanks to a jam-packed commission meeting last week.
While the interest revolving around the passing of the alcohol ordinance drew the majority of the crowd last Monday, commissioners approved many massive projects that night sending Plant City down the path for future growth.
For months, commissioners have debated the value of exploring further expansion of utilities along State Road 39 in hopes of securing the area for future development. The ball has officially begun rolling as a $340,739 contract was awarded to Inwood Consulting Engineering, Inc. Monday night to design and provide construction services for the project.
The city had nine respondents for the Request for Qualifications for the massive undertaking when bids were pulled on Feb. 14. The RFQ evaluation committee, composed of Lynn Spivey, Mike Darrow, Wayne Everhart, Lyudmila Gassaway and Quiltonya Grant met on Feb. 28 and determined Inwood would be the best fit for the city. After seeing the overwhelming success of County Line Road, commissioners began to cast their eyes around the city to see if another section would possibly work as a similar concept. Economically another massive development project would continue to boost the city’s standing and help ensure Plant City isn’t “boxed in” when new development comes to call.
The plan is to extend water and force utility mains along the west side of S.R. 39 all along the south side of the city. The east side of S.R. 39 from Johnson Road to both of Holloway and Colson Road will have the new utilities. A new pump station and a two-inch conduit for future fiber optic cable or other electrical or telecommunication needs would also be added to the expansion.
“It’s a 72-week project in total, so the 72 weeks have probably already started, let’s say we’ve got 70 to go,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “You’re talking a year and a quarter from now we’ll have utilities down 39 all the way to Holloway. They’ve already got things underway, they’ve done the SEW, the survey of underground utilities, they’ve already done all that.”
Inwood is the same company the city used with County Line Road and McDaniel said they’ve had very positive experience working with them in the past.
The city also approved a contract with Hydro Solutions Consulting, LLC. last week for engineering services for a new water treatment plant along Paul Buchman Highway near where much upcoming expansion is estimated to be occurring.
The city already has four water treatment plants ranging from both water towers and ground tanks. Plant number five will be a ground tank and Hydro Solutions is receiving $1,379,200 to bring it to life.
“It will just add another source of potable water to our city system,” McDaniel said. “I think also it adds to the ability to meet the capacity needs. You have to be able to take up more water and you can’t get more water from the same well. If you think about it, this is going up on Paul Buchman Highway just below Sam Allen so the north and northeast corridor is where all the expansion is supposed to occur so it makes sense to put another well up that way.”
Last week, commissioners approved the start of studies and designs for the well. McDaniel said the location had the well for 10 years but it wasn’t used. Now it needs to be retested and studied and approved for viability.
In one of the more exciting votes of the night, commissioners approved the rezoning of 64.94 acres of land located on South Wiggins Road, taking it from Hillsborough County Agriculture Single Family 1-Unit per acre to the Wish Farms Logistics Center Planned Development District.
The rezoning allows for a warehouse or distribution facility with the maximum total square footage of the development to be around 900,000 square feet.
Jake Austin, president of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation, stepped up to the podium and told commissioners he felt it was time to discuss the background of the potential tenant of the proposed development. While he is under a confidentiality agreement and could not reveal the name he did let commissioners know they were faced with a major opportunity.
“The company that we are engaged with right now is a Fortune 500 company,” Austin said. “They proposed between 250 and 300 new jobs for Plant City. We hope that the project’s capital investment based on other developments similar to this, we expect to do well over $50 million for investing directly into Plant City. I have been working in economic development and representing Plant City and Eastern Hillsborough County since 2012. We’ve had one other project close to this magnitude, which was Amazon.”
At the prior meeting commissioners had voiced their concerns regarding the quality of the roads in the area and how they would handle the increase in heavy truck traffic. Since then they said their concerns have been addressed and it was unanimously approved.
“I think just about every community in Florida would be cheering at the top of their lungs if they just landed a Fortune 500 company that’s bringing 300 jobs — and those are direct jobs — 250 to 300 jobs and you have the indirect jobs that comes along with that,” Mayor Rick Lott said. “There’s a domino effect so, Jake, to our staff, to this commission for making the investments we’ve made into our area, to Jake you and your team and your board, this whole group that’s worked together, listen we’ve just been chosen by a Fortune 500 company. They want to be in our city, not someone else’s city. They want to bring the jobs here and those investments here so I think this is a major celebration time and I want to congratulate everybody.”