Zephyrhills, Florida – Pasco County

May 30, 2024

Zephyrhills, Florida

A Community on the Rise in the Heart of Pasco County, Florida

 

‘Jumping in’ to a great future putting residents center stage

Whether you’re a newcomer, a lifelong local, or just passing through, Zephyrhills beckons you to

“Jump Right In” to an unforgettable experience. From its historic streets and small-town charm to the natural splendor of its parks and recreational areas, the city offers boundless opportunities for adventure. Known for its crystal clear springs, which have been attracting tourists for generations, Zephyrhills has also carved out a niche as a destination for skydiving and tennis enthusiasts.

Above all, the city maintains a serene and welcoming atmosphere for the 17,000 people who call it home. As Zephyrhills continues to welcome growth, it remains committed to enhancing development, infrastructure, and the overall quality of life for its residents.

City Manager William Poe, a native of Zephyrhills, expresses a deep connection to his hometown, highlighting its evolution and development over the years. He shares, “Zephyrhills holds a special place in my heart. It’s always been on the leading edge here in Pasco County, as far as different developments that have occurred. We’ve seen rapid growth and projects. Developments that we thought would take 15-20 years are taking two years. We are becoming a pretty big melting pot of different cultures throughout the community, which is wonderful.”

Investing in Outdoor Amenities and Infrastructure

Poe notes that Zephyrhills takes pride in its robust park system and wide range of outdoor recreation options. He conveys, “We’re currently investing just over $7 million in our Hercules Park, for a splash pad, playground equipment, walking trails, and some biking trails.” Currently, the city is working on a Parks Master Plan to further improve these spaces throughout the community.

“We’re looking to make sure that we don’t have any deficiencies, based on our levels of standard and expectations from the community,” he maintains. “We are looking at how we can address those and provide additional amenities, be it enhanced playground equipment, splash pads, exercise equipment, ball fields, whatever it may be.”

In terms of other infrastructure, Poe says that Zephyrhills has been able to manage sewage effectively, currently utilizing only 45% of the available capacity despite the ongoing growth. However, the city is experiencing water supply constraints as the population continues to surge.

“We have to follow regulations with Southwest Florida Water Management District, so our pumping capacity is limited based on drawdowns of the aquifer,” he recounts. “Our pumping capacity currently is at 3.3 million gallons per day, we’re hoping to increase that to almost 4.5 million, to be able to supply the water demands of our new residents and future growth.”

Recognizing the limitations of groundwater extraction, the city is actively exploring various alternative options to be proactive and secure a water supply for years to come.

With the fast pace of growth in the community and the prevalence of multiple-vehicle households, Zephyrhills is also tackling traffic congestion challenges. Poe says the issue is evident on US State Highway 301, as well as on county and local roads, leading to traffic backups that aren’t ideal for residents and commuters.

To address this, Zephyrhills is collaborating with the Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as Pasco County, to explore potential solutions. These may include widening roads, optimizing traffic light sequencing, and implementing various intersection improvements such as roundabouts.

 

Fostering Economic Development

Along with a burgeoning population, Zephyrhills is seeing significant economic growth fueled by the arrival of major employers like Bauducco, a cookie-manufacturing company, set to create hundreds of jobs.

“They are a new company coming in, and they’re hoping to create up to 600 jobs and construct 425,000 square feet of industrial manufacturing, warehousing,” Poe elaborates. “To be able to add 600 jobs to the Zephyrhills community is huge. We’ve not seen a large employer like that come into the community in a long time.”

The city is also home to Zephyrhills Bottled Water, a major employer that has been in the community since 1964. Other key job sources in the region include AdventHealth Zephyrhills and the Pasco County School District. Poe discloses, “There is another manufacturer that’s looking in the area. Quite often we get calls looking at the Zephyrhills industrial lands that are available.”

Another noteworthy development is the impending construction of a 60,000-square-foot armory by the Florida National Guard. Poe relays, “The state appropriated dollars to the National Guard, and they chose Zephyrhills to build their armory. We will have three to four units here. That’s another influx of employment that’s coming in, maybe not daily, but on the weekends they’ll be here, and then they’ll have some staff that work full time through the week. So, more employment, more people in town spending money in our restaurants and our businesses.”

 

Downtown Revitalization and Tourism

Alongside these larger economic developments, Zephyrhills is working to revive its downtown district, offering incentives to attract local businesses and restaurants that preserve its character and small-town appeal. Poe offers the example of Tina and Joe’s Cafe, a popular local sandwich restaurant, operating out of a city-owned building.

“We worked on a lease agreement where basically if they do well, the city makes more money. And if they’re not doing well, their lease is less,” he explains. “Downtowns are made up of one-off, eclectic restaurants that you cannot get anywhere else. And that’s really what we’re striving for.”

Zephyrhills is proud of its locally owned establishments like the Zephyrhills Brewing Company, and The Billiards Pool Hall, along with family-friendly spots like The Dog Pound, featuring arcade games and karaoke, and the Uptown Creamery, a newly established ice cream parlor.

“We have a kind of a different mix, and we have a very diverse group of citizens and visitors coming through because we do have something for everybody,” asserts Poe.

Zephyrhills also capitalizes on its tourism potential, with attractions drawing visitors from around the globe. “Probably the biggest tourist attraction in Zephyrhills is skydiving,” remarks Poe.

“Zephyrhills Skydive City is world-renowned. Part of it is that the ownership has created a community out there, but also, it’s the wonderful weather that we have. The city as a whole has accepted the skydiving industry, and skydivers come here like any other tourist, and they’ll spend money. They are in our restaurants, they are in our businesses, they are in our hotels. So, they have a huge economic impact on Zephyrhills.”

The Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center is another major draw for the community. Built in 2019 the top-notch facility offers nine clay courts, two hard courts, eight pickleball courts, and four padel courts. “It was built as an economic driver for the community,” portrays Poe. “Tennis Pro Florida is the operator of the facility, and they have an academy there. They’re bringing in students from all over the world to Zephyrhills, exposing Zephyrhills not just to the Tampa Bay region or the state of Florida, but across the world.”

In addition to attracting tennis enthusiasts, Zephyrhills has also hosted prominent figures like Daddy Yankee, the Puerto Rican rapper, who participated in a big Padel tournament held in the city. These attractions, alongside local festivals and events like Pigs in the Hills, Founders Day, and the annual parades celebrating the community, contribute to Zephyrhills’ appeal and engagement efforts, showcasing the city as more than just a destination for pure water.

Preserving Community Character Through Smart Growth

Zephyrhills remains committed to preserving its unique character and encouraging a sense of belonging in the community. Despite the moratorium imposed due to water capacity issues, the city is experiencing significant development, and projects like Abbott Park and Abbott Square are well underway, with hundreds of homes already completed.

Additionally, several townhome projects, hotels, and apartment complexes are in various stages of approval and construction.

Looking to the future Poe emphasizes that the focus will be on smart growth.

“We are just really paying attention to what we’re approving, being able to maintain our community feel, while providing the amenities, with the park enhancements, improving transportation, and getting us into a position where our water permit capacity is sufficient, not only for our current residents but for the future growth that is planned down the road.”

Ultimately, Zephyrhills remains a welcoming community where all are invited to “Jump Right In” and contribute to its ongoing transformation.

AT A GLANCE

Zephyrhills, Florida

What: A dynamic and forward-thinking city experiencing major growth.

Where: Pasco County, Florida

Website: www.ci.zephyrhills.fl.us

PREFERRED VENDORS

RCM Utilities, LLC – https://rcmutilities.com/

The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce – www.zephyrhillschamber.org

BlueTriton Brands – www.bluetriton.com

GAI Consultants, Inc. | Community Solutions Group – gaiconsultants.com/communitysolutions

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