NEW PORT RICHEY — The concrete shell of Keiser University is up and an adjacent parking garage is ready to rise, as well.

The city will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the parking structure at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18. The ceremony will take place at the construction site on U.S. Highway 19 and Main Street, behind the Keiser building.

The parking garage is part of the larger project that’s redeveloping the southeast corner of U.S. 19 and Main. Along with the university campus, the city has plans for a hotel to be built on the south end of the property.

The City Council approved the $6.5 million parking garage project in November and construction is expected to be completed by June.

According to project details, the structure will contain three parking levels for a total of 354 spaces. An undisclosed amount of spaces will be equipped with charging devices for electric vehicles, a city press release states.

“The parking structure will be a great asset to the city once events return to the downtown and for the faculty and staff of Keiser University,” City Manager Debbie Manns stated in a press release.

City leaders and staff expect the garage to be utilized when parking situations get crowded downtown, as well as by other city visitors wishing to walk the city or the river and Sims Park.

Municipal election qualifying period ends

Municipal elections in Pasco County will be held April 13 and the qualifying period for interested candidates ended Feb. 16.

April’s election affects three New Port Richey City Council seats and two Port Richey City Council seats. Each incumbent filed for reelection, including New Port Richey interim City Councilman Mike Peters.

New Port Richey’s other incumbent candidates are Peter Altman and Matt Murphy.

Port Richey’s incumbent candidates are Tom Kinsella and Todd Maklary. Similar to the city’s neighbor to the south, one challenger had filed as of late last week — Seth M. Kapp.

The seats of Altman and Murphy in New Port Richey provide full, three-year City Council terms. The seat Peters currently holds is that of former Councilman Jeff Starkey, who resigned in the middle of his three-year term. Whoever wins this seat will serve a one-year term before another election is held to get the election cycle back on track.

All candidates qualifying for New Port Richey’s election were required to indicate which position they intended to run for.

According to a city of New Port Richey press release, Altman chose to run for the seat with the one-year unexpired term and will win without opposition. Running for the other two seats with full, three-year terms are Murphy, Peters, Kate Connolly and Rachel Giuliani Hagenbaugh.

City Council members receive an annual salary of $3,600.