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Business Observer Thursday, May 27, 2010 8 years ago

Connerton back on track

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The new owners of the ambitious master-planned community in Pasco County look to finish what was started.

The new owner of the Connerton master-planned community along U.S. 41 in Pasco County is committed to finishing the 4,800-acre project, which has been in the works for the last five years but bogged down by the housing bust.

Dallas-based CoastOak Group, a national developer and operator of residential communities, says it paid $5.6 million and assumed existing debt obligations for a combination of finished lots, partially improved properties and raw land at Connerton. Terrabrook, the original developer, shut down the ambitious project in December and laid off the entire management team.

Plans for Connerton's new-town concept created excitement within the northern Tampa Bay region, calling for 8,500 residences and at least 3 million square feet of commercial space for office, retail and industrial uses. Terrabrook sold only a fraction of the 700 to 800 homes it had projected selling annually at the former cattle ranch.

“We're a big believer in the original vision of the project and we want to follow through on that,” says Greg McGowan, CoastOak managing principal. He adds that future building activity at Connerton will be dictated by market demand.

CoastOak bought Connerton in partnership with Hayman Woods LLC, a Dallas-based private equity firm focused on real estate. The company has also rehired several members of the previous development team, including former Connerton President Stew Gibbons.

Amenities at Connerton include onsite shopping, medical facilities, an elementary school, a private club, and conservation areas with parks and walking trails. Future plans call for a hospital, three schools and a town center.

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