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Nation’s first Crystal Lagoon to open in spring 2018 in Wesley Chapel

By C.T. Bowen
The Crystal Lagoon is seen in this drone photo taken with a wide angle lens Tuesday at the Epperson Community being developed in Wesley Chapel. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

WESLEY CHAPEL – Spring break could mean a new state-of-the-art water amenity for swimmers, paddle boarders and sunbathers in central Pasco County.

The nation’s first Crystal Lagoon is scheduled to open in early spring 2018 in the Epperson development in Wesley Chapel, Metro Development Group announced Tuesday morning.

The revelation came as Metro officials provided journalists with a tour of the 7.5-acre man-made lagoon that already contained the initial pockets of what eventually will be 16 million gallons of purified water.

The water, purchased from Pasco County’s utilities department, will stream through three separate four-inch hoses into the pool that measures more than six football fields long and four-fifths of a mile around. The company can pump 250,000 gallons daily into the pool as it uses water during off-peak consumption for the rest of the county’s water customers. Filling the lagoon is expected to take eight to 12 weeks, said Greg Singleton, Metro Development president.

The Crystal Lagoon is the centerpiece amenity in the 2,000-home Epperson development, at Curley and Overpass roads, about 3 miles north of State Road 54. Epperson is the initial project in the so-called connected city corridor, the first ultrafast gigabit community developed from the ground up. It encompasses 7,800 acres in central and eastern Pasco, about 35 percent of which is owned by Metro, and is expected to become home to 96,000 people over the next five decades if company projections are accurate.

Singleton said the Crystal Lagoon in Epperson represents a $5 million to $10 million investment from the company. He declined to provide a more specific amount for competitive reasons.

"It’s more expensive than we thought, but that’s to be expected when you’re first,’’ said Singleton.

PAST COVERAGE: Metro breaks ground on Crystal Lagoon

Fifty-seven families already have moved into newly built homes in Epperson and Singleton attributed rapid sales to the Crystal Lagoon. He said one home-builder volunteered that it had doubled its sales expectations.

"The lagoon effect is real. We’ve experienced it,’’ said Singleton.

So much so, that the company plans to build more.

Metro already has started clearing land for its Mirada development, just south of State Road 52, that has been approved for 5,800 homes and 900 apartments and will become home to a second Crystal Lagoon in Pasco County.

Singleton said that lagoon could break ground next summer. Metro plans to begin construction of a Crystal Lagoon in the Southshore Bay development in southern Hillsborough in early 2018, Singleton said. The company also plans to build a fourth lagoon in Fort Myers.

Crystal Lagoon announced in October it had hired Olympian Michael Phelps as its brand ambassador. Phelps is scheduled to attend the grand opening of the Epperson Crystal Lagoon, possibly in February.

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com. Follow @CTBowen2