Wesley Chapel has transformed from a town of sprawling cattle ranches to a hot spot of suburban growth.
Now, there will soon be a new addition – the nation’s first Crystal Lagoon, a 7.5 acre manmade body of turquoise water.
In 2010, the community had a population of just over 44,000. 2017 figures showed that number had increased to more than 51,000. The influx of people has presented opportunities to several businesses in the area.
“Retail follows rooftops,” Hope Allen, the President and CEO of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce said. “We have seen a massive growth spurt not just of residents, but the ancillary services that make us a great community.”
“Over the last 10 years, there has been an incredible boom,” Allen said.
She points specifically to Wiregrass Ranch, a 5,000 acre plot of land owned by Don Porter and his family that, through a master plan development, has become the community it is today.
The Crystal Lagoon in is the main attraction of a 2,000-home neighborhood being developed near Wiregrass Ranch. Epperson covers 7,800 acres and is projected to become home to 96,000 people over the next 50 years. According to Allen, the development will have residential, retail and office uses.
The lagoon will be the first of its kind in the United States, after similar Crystal Lagoons were constructed in Egypt and Dubai. Lagoon-goers can expect to see paddleboards, kayaks and other non-motorized vehicles on the water alongside swimmers.
There will be a formal opening celebration of the lagoon on April 28 with Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps in attendance. The Epperson lagoon is the first of five Crystal Lagoons planned in Florida with a second one breaking ground in Wimauma later this year.
For Wesley Chapel, the Crystal Lagoon represents more than just a colossal swimming pool.
“What it means for us is continued positive growth. It means the opportunity for more economic development," Allen said. "Essentially it puts Wesley Chapel, Pasco County and North Tampa Bay all on the map. Not just here in Florida, but worldwide.”