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."