City Staff Propose Deeding Hacienda Hotel to Developer

The proposal is offered in a draft written agreement that outlines the terms and conditions staff would like to see in a deal to convert the downtown building into a modern hotel.

City staff is proposing that New Port Richey gift the deed to the to its potential developer after the developer expands and rehabilitates the shuttered landmark.

The proposal is offered in a draft written agreement that outlines the terms and conditions staff would like to see in a deal to convert the downtown building into a modern hotel.

In late October, the city sent the proposed agreement to Community Development Partners, the developer the city has been discussing the building’s redevelopment with for years.

City staff were waiting to hear back from the Georgia-based company on the proposal as of Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“We’re trying to flush out just how serious they are,” said City Manager John Schneiger on Tuesday.

The agreement would need to be signed off on by the developer and the city Community Redevelopment Agency, or CRA.

Construction on the Hacienda began in 1926. The building was completed as a hotel in 1927. The hotel closed its doors around 1985, reopening as an assisted living facility run by Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services shortly afterward.

The city Community Redevelopment Agency agreed to buy the 55-room Hacienda Hotel for a little more than $2.2 million in 2003. City staff proposed a public-private venture at the time.

The city leased the building to Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services from 2003  to 2006, when Jewish Family Services vacated the building. The Hacienda has been vacant since then.

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has deteriorated, said Schneiger and Development Director Lisa Fierce.

"We have some concerns about the condition it's in and thought it might be more attractive deeded," Fierce said.

The CRA  has been reported to be $21 million in debt and is anticipated to be subsidized by the city general fund next year.

The agreement proposes deeding the 24,000-square-foot building, the .80 acre on which it sits and the improvements to the land to the developer, according to the agreement. The deed would be transferred at no purchase cost.

"It's just something we threw out as a potential carrot," Fierce said.

But first, the city staff, who worked with a consultant to draft the agreement, is proposing that the developer complete the rehabilitation and expansion needed to convert the Hacienda into a midscale hotel. The developer is responsible for financing or finding funding for the work under the proposed agreement, although the city can help look for financial assistance. 

The work on the site would include:   

  • Renovation and refurbishment of the interior of the building
  • Construction of a tower to up the rooms to 93 with related amenities
  • Restoration of the building exterior

The site would be leased to the developer as the developer completed the work. Construction would be started within 12 months of a final development agreement and finished within 15 months of commencement.

The agreement proposes that the city and developer discuss and agree on a schedule of performance with specific milestones and a site plan. Parking could be on-site or agreed to in a separate contract with the city.

Schneiger said the agreement was a first step to get the project going and is an offer that he believes to be “realistic." 

Jeff Cannon November 12, 2011 at 04:16 PM
A few questions for Mr. Marlow-- Correct me if I'm wrong here, but doesn't this deal add up to a loss for the city and the more than 2-million tax payer dollars spent to acquire this historic property? Will the tax base created by the proposed project out weigh the $2-million already spent or are city leaders hoping this project will stimulate downtown growth like the Main Street Landing project did? What is the proposed tax base that will be created by the development of the Hacienda into a "viable hotel?" These are all questions that I've not seen any answers to, but should have been answered before any contract was offered to the developer.
Rob Marlowe November 12, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Jeff, Don't get me started on the buying binge that previous councils went on using borrowed money. Drunken sailors would take offense at the comparison. The short answer about the improvement in the tax base is yes, it should over time. How much is very much dependent on the ultimate details. It should also provide one of the anchors for a revitalized downtown. The city has been working with the current developers since before the start of the Great Recession. Obviously, nothing much has happened during that time. A big part of the discussion has centered around where to build a room wing. Expectations for hotel rooms have changed quite a bit in the last 90 years, which is the reason for looking at a wing for modern rooms. Any room wing would need to fit in with the historic structure. For reasons I don't completely understand, it appears that the room wing would need to be built west of the existing building, probably fairly close to Main Street. My preference was to put the wing in the middle of Bank Street, but that is apparently not possible. Mindy, You took the words out of my mouth. We've been sitting still for long enough. If the hotel concept isn't going to work, there ARE some other alternatives that have been suggested and we ought to look at them. What we can NOT afford to do is let the building fall apart like the old First Baptist Church. We know how that ended.
Rob Marlowe November 12, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Sherry & Rob/TMP, The funds used to buy the Hacienda require that the property eventually go back on the tax role, which would seem to rule out the community center idea. There ARE some alternate ideas for the Hacienda that could put it back on the tax roles and generate enough revenue to rehab the existing building and cover the ongoing upkeep of the building. The million dollar question (or two million dollar question, if you will) is whether the Hacienda would best be a hotel that would cater to folks coming to New Port Richey to take advantage of various special events, eco tourism, and shopping downtown or would the Hacienda work best as a "day use" type of facility... restaurant, canoe/kayak shop, bike rental shop, or some combination thereof. We've been working with the hotel folks for several years and if the hotel is viable, great. If not, then we need to take a good long hard look at the other options. These other ideas are not all mine (thank you Craig Carmichael and others), but I'd be happy sit down with any of you to talk about how a revitalized Hacienda would help the entire downtown. Rob
Susan Washburn November 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM
If the town can rent out parts of the property to businesses such as dance, exercise, galleries, local and culturally diverse restaurants, stores that cater to New Port Richey tourism, educational stores, i.e. businesses that can enhance the city's cultural and intellectual base, and collect rent for them as well as have them registered as NPR businesses and collect taxes from them as operating business in New Port Richey, that might be a way to retain ownership of the property and still have income for the town from it. It could be a mixed use property with space for town, public and private functions to rent out for concerts, weddings, etc.
Rachel Maxwell March 10, 2012 at 03:36 AM
i wish the would rent out the hacienda hotel in new port richey i would love to have my wedding there


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