Plant City Abuzz with Economic Growth

July 1, 2015

— Economic growth continues to pick up in the Plant City area, with Central Florida Development announcing construction of a second speculative 100,000-square-foot warehouse.
At the same time, Lakeside Station Logistics Park, a 1,400-acre industrial business park just a few miles away, is stepping up marketing to lure warehouses, big-box distribution centers and logistics operations.
The spec warehouse will go up on County Line Road just south of U.S. 92. “We’re excited to begin construction of another speculative project in Plant City,” said Richard LeFrois, Central Florida Development president.
“The city’s pro-business attitude and great location have helped drive our success in leasing our first building,” he said in a news release. “We are confident the momentum will continue and are already seeing significant interest in the next building, as well as interest in our other business parks along I-4.”
All this comes on the heels of a big announcement by Plant City in May that it is accelerating its efforts to promote economic development. It has kicked off its “Plant City Right.Now.” campaign to draw businesses to the Interstate 4 corridor, including lands along County Line Road and Park Road to the west.
Central Florida Development built its first 100,000-square-foot warehouse several months ago and already has two tenants. Fitlife Foods, which has seven locations throughout the Tampa Bay area to distribute its ready-made healthy meals, will open its commercial kitchen in the building this month in 25,000 square feet of space. Another tenant, yet to be named, will take up 60,000 square feet, said company representative Jeff Lucas.
“Our next step may very well be to begin developing the Central Florida Commerce Center at the corner of County Line Road and Rice Road” farther south, Lucas said. “It’s 72 acres and can accommodate up to 1.6 million square feet” of commercial development.
Central Florida Development also has two restaurant sites and room for two more smaller buildings on its land at U.S. 92 and County Line Road.
“The incredible demand we’re seeing for new industrial development in Plant City is the direct result of our efforts to make it even easier for manufacturing, logistics and distribution operations to take advantage of our ideal location and find the workforce, facilities and business assistance they need to get up and running quickly,” Plant City Mayor Rick Lott said in a written statement.
“The speed with which Central Florida Development has been able to build the first spec building and move forward with the second shows how quickly we and our partners at the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and CareerSource Tampa Bay can respond to meet business needs and keep up with fast growth,” Lott said.
Plant City’s proximity to the I-4 corridor that connects Tampa and Orlando makes it a prime target for warehouse and logistics development. Already, the Polk County side of County Line Road has numerous industrial and warehouse businesses, including and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The city is extending water and sewer lines to some property to the east to draw more business to the Hillsborough County side of the divide.
Transcend Development, which owns Lakeside Station, just west on Park Road, has hired a marketing firm to draw in even more businesses. It already is home to logistics provider Star Distribution, Evergreen Packaging and 84 Lumber.
Once in line to become Plant City’s largest residential development with 2,600 homes, the great recession changed all that, and Lakeside Station’s owners regrouped to develop a business park. has been retained as the exclusive adviser for the business park, located about 30 minutes from Tampa. The property is zoned for development of more than 10 million square feet for business use and a sprinkling of high-density residential development.
“Central Florida boasts a number of attributes that appeal to large industrial users, including one of the fastest growing populations in the country and a sophisticated transportation and logistics infrastructure,” said Kostas Stoilas, senior associate at CBRE Tampa.
“The goal is to partner and help the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation attract a national headquarters to the area, and Lakeside Station would be in the geographic center” of the state within 200 miles of 18.4 million customers, Stoilas said.
Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Rick Homans said the leadership from Plant City and Hillsborough County, combined with well-planned development, will attract high-quality end users, whether for manufacturing, distribution or commercial office space. He said his team will help recruit the new jobs and capital investment when the times comes.
Yvette C. Hammett | Tribune Staff