New Port Richey City Council members voted Tuesday to end their relationship with a potential developer of the Hacienda Hotel.
Four council members were present to vote at Tuesday’s meeting on sending a letter to Community Development Partners saying the city is closing the doors on negotiations with the firm to redevelop the Hacienda. All four voted to send the letter to CDP.
The Hacienda Hotel, located right on Main Street, was built in the 1920s. It was used as a hotel for years, before it became an assisted living facility.
The city Community Redevelopment Agency voted to buy the Hacienda Hotel in the middle of last decade, and it has sat vacant since 2006, when the assisted living facility moved out.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The city has been negotiating with CDP for six years, and it does not have a written agreement for the firm to redevelop the historic property. It had a planned development agreement with the firm at one point, but it lapsed in 2010.
The city then picked up negotiations with CDP again and has been talking to them over the past year or so, but it still doesn’t have a new agreement. CDP had proposed redeveloping the property into a modern hotel.
The city had been negotiating with CDP over this past year about a draft agreement document called a term sheet, but the letter approved Tuesday says the city wants to "end term sheet negotiations with CDP, Inc., and seek other options."
Last week, Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe said in a comment on Patch that the decision wouldn’t “preclude the city eventually working out a deal with CDP or another developer to add the pieces necessary for a modern hotel (eg. a room wing in the Swanson parking lot) once the economy improves.”
At the Tuesday meeting, Marlowe thanked Andrew Ham, vice president of CDP, for working with the city and acknowledged that he understood the economics CDP was faced with in this project "just weren't working for them."
Ham responded to the council's decision in an email to Patch:
"We wish the City well," he said. "It's been a long road for both of us. If someone else undertakes a historic restoration of the building we would be happy to provide the nearly $800,000 in cash equity we have available in exchange for the historic tax credits that potentially could be generated by a rehab."
Councilman Bill Phillips has suggested next steps the city could take with the property, including taking an inventory of the Hacienda’s contents and checking air quality, seeking grants or private funds to help sustain the building, determining goals for the city to reintroduce the Hacienda into the market and ideas for marketing the property and soliciting developers.
The city is planning a community cleanup of the property and is eyeing Jan. 12 for the effort. Parties interested in participating in the cleanup can contact interim city manager Susan Dillinger at email@example.com. They can also call the city manager’s office at 727-853-1021 and give Marilyn Mercado their contact information.
Do you think the city council made the right move? Share your thoughts in the comments section.