The company that has pondered redeveloping the shuttered Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey is open to exploring an expansion of the hotel over the nearby Gloria Swanson parking lot, according to City Manager John Schneiger.
The developers are now waiting on a city legal review that would determine whether there are restrictions preventing development of the parking lot and the adjacent city-owned building that used to house a post office, which could be razed as part of the expansion.
“We’re doing the title research right now,” Schneiger said.
New Port Richey has been talking to Community Development Partners, which has offices in Jacksonville and Georgia, about the Hacienda’s redevelopment for years. The developer has said it wants to renovate the vacant building, which the city purchased last decade, and convert it into a boutique hotel.
It has been said that .
Last week, the city took off the table that would have allowed for the developers to up the Hacienda’s room count from 55 to 93 and accomodate amenities.
The city council had been on the brink of voting on decisions that would have paved the way for the city and the Hacienda’s potential developer to .
The city’s legal counsel told the city council it had learned of restrictions on how the land west of the Hacienda can be used that made the proposed expansion a problem. Months prior to that, the prospect of an expansion north into Sims Park was also ditched when the city learned it could come into conflict with a city ordinance that affected that section of the park.
After learning of the restrictions that put the kibosh on the westward expansion, Andy Ham, a vice president with Community Development Partners, pitched creating a free-standing building over the Gloria Swanson Parking lot on the east side of Bank Street, according to Schneiger.
When asked why CDP was interested in continuing with the project, Ham replied in an e-mail to Patch that: "CDP has invested time and money in the project and will see it through to its conclusion."
Schneiger said he was told on Friday that Community Development Partners thinks there’s a way they could make a development over the Gloria Swanson Parking Lot work. The existing Hacienda building could house amenities like a restaurant, conference room and spa, Schneiger said.
A new building where the parking lot now stands could be constructed to include multiple stories to accommodate the number of rooms the developer seeks.
“They potentially may not have any rooms in the existing building,” Schneiger said.
Ham described the idea.
"The new building could be the hotel annex while most if not all hotel amenities could be in the historic building," he wrote in an e-mail. "The parking lot site is large enough for the new building."
The expansion might call for razing the adjacent former post office to accommodate parking, and the city review is addressing whether there are restrictions there, too. This review and the one that was done for the westward expansion cost the city a couple thousand dollars each, Schneiger said.
The city would like CDP to show how the Gloria Swanson Parking Lot could accommodate the rooms the developers need.
The project might call for traffic calming measures on Bank Street.
CDP is “waiting to make sure it is OK to move forward on this, and I think that’s prudent on their part,” Schneiger said.
Schneiger said the direction he is taking is to seek for the Hacienda to be a project that will aid the city’s tax base and add to downtown. Critics of the expansion have questioned the need for another hotel in the New Port Richey area.
“This is a different kind of hotel” than what’s available, Schneiger said. “This is a destinaton/ tourism group kind of hotel,” he said.
The other hotels already present are business-oriented, he said.
*Article updated at 11 p.m. March 13 with comments from Andy Ham.