NEW PORT RICHEY — More than a year after some 350 residents volunteered to spruce up Hacienda hotel, New Port Richey City Council members are hopeful that a new era could dawn at the historic landmark and the downtown area. A report should be ready Tuesday, Jan. 21, about qualifications of the four firms interested in handling redevelopment of the Spanish-style structure that first opened in 1927, said Mario Iezzoni, the city’s economic development director. In a realted matter, Main Street Landing Developer Ken McGurn is scheduled to appear at a Feb. 4 meeting to discuss options for completing the commercial-residential project, council members were told. The community cleanup day for the Hacienda on Jan. 12, 2013, drew widespread support. Since the, however, there has been little progress toward redeveloping the former hotel.
“We’ve been talking about this for more than a year,” Councilman Bill Phillips said Tuesday night about a structural analysis of the Hacienda building, which has stood vacant in recent years. Indeed, the analysis is the next step toward redevelopment, Iezzoni noted. The four firms interested in the project need more information about the 1927 construction methods used for the historic structure at Main and Bank streets. Last year, an online pledge drive failed to raise enough toward a $35,000 goal to study the Hacienda’s structural integrity. The Hacienda’s future could hinge upon if the city moves the poplar Super Playground at the adjacent Sims Park. To make it as a niche hotel or other tourist attraction, the Hacienda needs easy access to the riverfront at Pithlachascotee River, Councilman Jeff Starkey commented. Since the Hacienda site intertwines with the park, council members need to set priorities for the Sims Park overhaul, council members agreed. “We need to decide now” about where to place a revamped playground, David Schrader, chairman of the city’s parks and recreation advisory board, urged. The playground project faces a grant deadline, so it should not be tied to Hacienda redevelopment. In the meantime, crews have finished the streetscaping project at Main Street and River Road. The $278,227 joint beautification project included Main Street Landing. McGurn, Main Street Landing’s Gainesville-based developer, pledged an extra share of about $45,000 toward the total cost. Nine years in the making, the Main Street Landing project, originally conceived as a mix of condos and commercial space, could finally emerge out of the shadows of the recession, city officials hope. At one point, people had placed down payments on more than 40 of 55 residential units, according to Mayor Bob Consalvo. First announced in 2004 as a partnership between McGurn and former New Port Richey Mayor and Pasco County Commissioner Peter Altman, the riverside commercial project was hit with rising costs for building materials and commercial insurance following the active 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Altman is no longer involved. For a period of years that included the aftermath of the post-2008 recession, the fragments of the building stood along the southwestern bank of the Pithlachascotee River at the Main Street bridge. More than a year ago, crews finished enclosing the exterior shell of the vacant building.