NEW PORT RICHEY – Main Street Landings is coming, city officials and developers promise. Landing on precise dates, however, has been an ongoing challenge.
Delays, be they large or small, have resulted in the project at the corner of Main Street and River Road remaining unfinished for about 15 years and counting. The finish line is in sight for the residential-commercial project, developers insist, but recent hurdles require another slight extension.
Convening as the Community Redevelopment Agency prior to last week’s regular meeting, City Council agreed to extend the developer’s deadline by 60 days for achieving Certificates of Occupancy on 90 percent of the project’s units. It’s the second time the deadline’s been extended this year, receiving an extra 120 days in February. The new deadline is Nov. 10, pushed back from Sept. 10.
“In spite of valiant efforts on the part of both Mr. and Mrs. McGurn, there have been labor shortages and rain delays that have caused the project not to meet that deadline,” said City Manager Debbie Manns, referring to Gainesville-based developers of Main Street Landing, Ken and Linda McGurn.
The couple’s company, McGurn Management, has played a major role in the renaissance of downtown Gainesville but have found Main Street Landing a much harder project to bring to completion.
As part of the agreement with New Port Richey regarding Main Street Landing, the CRA’s increment payment of $1,475,000 has been deferred. The CRA will pay $737,500 to the McGurns 30 days after the date of the project being “substantially complete.” It will pay another $737,500, plus 2 percent interest, from six months after the date of substantial completion, no later than one year after completion or Oct. 1, 2020, whichever occurs first.
“The reason that the developers are willing to make this financial agreement with the city is to assist the CRA in being able to provide financial incentives to other businesses in the city looking to implement improvements,” Manns said. “We’re very grateful to them for their generous offer.”
Immediately following the Main Street Landings project extension last Tuesday, the CRA board discussed expanding a commercial redevelopment grant program that provides money to help downtown businesses improve building infrastructure as well as attracting the “highest and best use for vacant and semi-occupied properties,” according to the agenda packet.
The CRA receives a percentage of the property tax revenue generated within the city’s Community Redevelopment District and uses the money to boost development within the district.
Ken McGurn attended last week’s CRA meeting and updated board members on Main Street Landings progress as well as the challenges faced in recent months.
“If you’ve been there lately, one of our problems is the rain,” McGurn said, noting a standing body of water that has formed on the property that cannot be drained until contractors finish nearby paving work. The developer also updated the board on what businesses to expect at the commercial units located on the first floor of the project.
“We’re very pleased with the commercial interest,” McGurn said. “We have a brewery, we have a Spanish bakery and we have an English bakery coming. As far as the arts are concerned, we have an art store coming that’s already established here and we’ve hired her to do murals.”
Council voted 4-0 to approve the deadline extension, with Councilman Peter Altman abstaining due to a possible conflict of interest. Altman, an accountant, was originally a partner with the McGurns in the Main Street Landing project but had to drop out when its development ground to a halt in the middle of the previous decade.
“I have no financial agreement at this point, but I have been involved in that project in the past and I’m intending to participate and assist and may find myself involved with them in the future,” Altman, a former mayor of New Port Richey and Pasco County commissioner, said.
The four other council members expressed their eagerness to see Main Street Landings finally open for business and residents.
“Thank you for hanging in there and getting this thing done and completed,” Councilman Matt Murphy said. “Next year’s going to be a big year for New Port Richey and you’re definitely part of that.”
“I know there’s a lot of buzz around the New Port Richey area about Main Street Landings opening and a lot of folks I’ve talked to have been looking at the building plans online and it’s very exciting to see that, along with The Central,” said Councilman Jeff Starkey, referencing another project that’s being built along Orange Lake.
Councilman Chopper Davis said the pushed-back completion date may come as a blessing in disguise as people begin to move into other new complexes in nearby neighborhoods such as Trinity.
“When their lease comes up, they’re going to come down and pack New Port Richey, so you’ll be right on time,” Davis said. “A couple months extra will be to your advantage filling it up.”
Prior to McGurn speaking, Manns reiterated to the board and others in attendance the developers’ commitment to the project.
“Mr. McGurn and Mrs. McGurn are not only getting it done, they’re getting it done expertly,” the city manager said. “There truly is a labor of love from the two of them and I think when you see it you will see the touch of their construction management experience because they’ve made (that many) good decisions.”