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City invests in its business corridor

New Port Richey wants to be "more than a dot on a map." It targets parking needs and welcomes plans for a retail and residential complex.

By MELIA BOWIE
Published February 15, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - Reviving New Port Richey's business corridor after the planned departure of Community and Morton Plant North Bay hospitals remains the most pressing issue for local officials and business leaders.

Toward that end, much of 2004 is being devoted to brushing the city off and sprucing up its business climate through several redevelopment initiatives. Funding for a number of efforts will come from the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, which has an $8.9-million budget this year.

Targeted projects for 2004 include retail growth, residential renovation, professional development and additional parking for New Port Richey.

The goal is simple, says a business owner.

"We need to be more than a dot on the map; we need to be a destination," said Sharon McReynolds, of the newly formed New Port Richey Business Owners Association.

Last summer, city business leaders set the stage for growth with a series of workshops designed to address permiting problems, parking woes and growth management challenges.

Workshop participants formed a merchants group, the New Port Richey Business Owners Association. Its members already have lobbied the City Council for changes to city parking that they say limits foot traffic coming into their shops.

Last October, city officials and engineers projected that New Port Richey will face a shortage of 573 parking spaces.

An ordinance approved in November provides a temporary fix that will ease parking regulations and allow shared use of some spaces between businesses that have different hours of operation.

This year, according to New Port Richey's five-year work program, officials estimate $180,000 is needed to acquire land for a new parking site.

In future years, $75,000 is expected to be budgeted for design and $2.2-million for construction of a deck or garage.

But perhaps the biggest boost to New Port Richey business climate could come from Pasco County Commissioner Peter Altman, whose company, Main Street Landings Inc., is proposing a large retail and residential complex along the river.

The recreation complex at the city's gateway was first proposed by Altman in April.

City staff estimate the effort is a $7-million investment in New Port Richey.

Conceptual plans include upscale vacation rentals, a waterfront restaurant, retail shops and a canoe and kayak outfitter.

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]


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