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The real reason we are leaving Fla, moving to higher ground!


By GEORGE H. NEWMAN

The Tampa Tribune

Published: May 6, 2008

Updated: 05/07/2008 12:03 am

PLANT CITY - The setting could hardly be more surreal.

On one side of Branch Forbes Road at Interstate 4 sits a full-size dinosaur replica advertising a theme park. On the other, there's a building that looks like Noah's ark - with a large deck attached.

The arklike building across from Dinosaur World has been attracting the attention of passing motorists since construction started last year. It's not clear what kind of a business the building will house once construction is done. For that matter, it's not clear when work will wrap up.

The owner, George Hansen of New York City, said in a brief interview that he originally planned it as a war memorial. "But there are a lot of unanswered questions and I'm just not ready to discuss the project at this time," he said.

The building wasn't modeled after the biblical ark, even though the resemblance is striking. Even Hansen's designer said he's heard it called that.

"People call it the ark, for obvious reasons," said Edrahim Mehrani, owner of DCI Solutions in Lutz. "But we are not sure what the final use will be. The building is up for lease, and the tenant will make the final decision."

A banner draped on the building offers the property for lease as a restaurant. The deck would accommodate outdoor dining, Mehrani said.

Three more buildings are planned for the 8.7-acre site, including one that will display works of art and another where movies of historical events will be shown, he said.

Hansen first proposed a "war memorial gift shop" on the land in late 1997, according to Hillsborough County building department records.

The county's planning and zoning division said the owner changed the intended use of the two-story, 100-foot long building to a golf gift shop in 2003.

Marlene Svensson, manager of Dinosaur World, said the construction on the opposite side of Branch Forbes Road has her guests asking questions.

"Every day a visitor to our park will ask about it," Svensson said.

She's heard it will be a restaurant, but she hasn't heard when work might be completed. "The sooner the better, as far as we are concerned."

posted by One Man's Struggle To Take It Easy @ 7:37 PM,

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