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Want to live on Beeswax Lane? Tampa Bay developers strain to create new street names

When Newland Communities began developing FishHawk Ranch in Hillsborough County two decades ago, naming streets wasn’t much of a problem.

"Literally, we would get out our list of Florida native bird names every time a new section came online," said Pam Parisi, Newland’s vice president of marketing. Hence, Osprey Park Place and Eagle Ridge Drive.

But now that the company has two more huge developments — Waterset in Hillsborough and Bexley In Pasco County — finding names for all those new thoroughfares can be a lot more challenging.

"It certainly is," Parisi said, "because you run out of ideas."

Since developers began turning vast tracts of farm and ranch land into sprawling communities, Tampa Bay has gained more than 1,000 streets. With old classics like Main, Central and Maple long since appropriated by established cities and towns, residents of new master-planned communities can find themselves with addresses on a Beeswax Lane or a Kale Banyan Drive.

For those tasked with naming streets, inspiration generally comes from the overall theme of the community, the history of the property or both.

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At Starkey Ranch, which once was an actual ranch, "the first thing we did was try to implement names that were significant to the ranch," said Matt Call, project manager of the Odessa development that eventually could have more than 5,000 homes. Thus Lyon Pine Lane pays homage to an Odessa lumber company, Lyon Pine, that once made turpentine out of tar from the pine trees prevalent in the area.

Although Call does most of the street-naming himself, he ran his ideas for the two main thoroughfares — Heart Pine Avenue and Rangeland Boulevard — past colleagues to make sure they were appropriate and "had a good ring to them." The group rejected the name Milkweed — ‘‘we don’t want to name a street after a weed’’ — but endorsed names like Long Spur that are easy to spell and pronounce.

"When you’re on the phone with someone ordering something or updating your address with the power company, you don’t want to have to repeat it a bunch of times," Call said.

All proposed street names must be approved by Pasco County government. Names cannot duplicate or be similar to existing names. According to the guidelines, they should be "pleasant sounding, easy to read and of a character which allows the public, and children in particular, to remember the name in an emergency situation."

Call said county officials have approved 80 percent of the names he’s submitted. Among the rejects: Blue Stem, because of a general ban on the use of colors in names that could be confusing to first responders with their codes blue and red alerts.

At Bexley, a few miles east of Starkey Ranch, the county turned thumbs down on Parisi’s idea of naming streets in one guitar-shaped section after famous guitarists and guitar makers.

"The county wanted to make sure we had licensing agreements, which of course we didn’t, so we had to back off of that," Parisi said. Instead, she came up with generic guitar-related names including Amped Way, Tuner Bend and Chord Drive.

Newland starting planning Bexley in 2007 before the housing crash, then put it on hold until 2016. The concept of the 1,834-acre community, once part of the Bexley Ranch, changed during the down time and so did the inspiration for some of the street names.

Bexley is close to the 42-mile Suncoast Trail and has its own bike trails as well as a BMX park. "With our second round of envisioning, we came upon this biking theme," Parisi said. "It felt a bit more on the adventurous side than keeping with the ranch theme."

As a result, Bexley now includes Tubular Run, Cruiser Road and Slipstream Drive. Cyclists can dine at the Twisted Sprocket Cafe.

Huge communities like Bexley are typically developed in stages, sparing the need to come up with 100 or more street names at a time. But that doesn’t make the process much easier.

"Every flower, every tree (name) is gone," Parisi said. "It’s a challenge to keep any kind of theme going without getting a little creative."

In Bexley, she ultimately named one street after her daughter — Jensen Lane. Another street, Grace Way, is named for a former co-worker.

Meanwhile, as FishHawk Ranch expanded, it became harder to find bird names for streets: Night Thrasher is a Florida bird but the name seemed better suited to a horror movie. So in FishHawk’s final phase, Parisi "went a bit nostalgic" and named one street Colony Glen Way after the street she grew up on in Pleasantville, New York.

Then there was the project manager who "went rogue," as Parisi puts it, naming streets Caldera Ridge (there is no volcano in FishHawk) and Quarry Lake (no quarry and no lake).

"He was an engineer who was just very into soil-type things," she said. "We just laughed. What I love is that (naming) gives everyone on the team an opportunity to leave a mark."

Like Pasco, Hillsborough requires developers to submit proposed street names for approval. So many names have poured in that the county streamlined the process with a computer program that first screens by objective points like length, special characters and known vulgarities. Names that pass the objective tests are then reviewed for subjective qualities like "pronouncability."

When names are too close to existing names — say, South Fire Street and Sapphire Street — "we have the right to deny the name ‘Sapphire’ because it sounds too similar to South Fire for someone trying to field an emergency call," said Jason Balmut, manger of the county’s streets and addresses department.

Balmut is mindful, though, that developers like to tie street names to a theme, be it places, animals or gems. In this case, "we would offer the developer a suggestion such as ‘stunning sapphire’ to make the aural distinction and keep the theme," he said.

Since 2008, Hillsborough has approved 1,164 street names and denied 254. Names are limited to 16 characters — more than that, and sign makers have to "narrow the font, which causes the letters to run together and decreases legibility," Balmut said.

Among the more unusual sources of street names in the Tampa Bay area was the 1985 western movie Silverado. For Metro Development Group’s community of the same name in Zephyrhills, marketing director Jen Austin named streets after people connected to the movie, both real and make-believe.

There’s Paden Wheel Street, after actor Kevin Kline’s character Paden. There’s Emmett Burch Street, after Scott Glenn’s character Emmett.

"And the director was Lawrence Kasdan so we gave him a street,’’ Austin said — Kasdan Perk.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

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