Hacienda developers looking east

Published May 9, 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY - West wasn't great and north was worse. But east? That may be the direction City Council members are willing to go.

Council members, meeting Tuesday evening as directors of the Community Redevelopment Agency, heard a third option from a team of developers hoping to restore and expand the city-owned Hacienda Hotel.

This option involves closing a portion of Bank Street to accommodate an eastward addition of roughly 40 rooms. The closure would extend from the existing alleyway behind the stores fronting Main Street to the circle around Orange Lake.

The council members all favored the idea. "I do like the eastward expansion best, " said council member Ginny Miller.

The northward expansion would put construction near the bandshell in Sims Park. Moving west would level the park's playground. Residents have criticized those plans on the basis that they would dramatically change Sims Park.

The team of developers - which includes Community Development Partners of Georgia and Three Oaks Hospitality of Boca Raton - wants to restore and expand the 1927 landmark into an upscale hotel and spa with a restaurant and meeting space.

"We see it as being a focal point for your community, " said Kirby Glaze, president of Community Development Partners.

The matter now goes back to a citizens advisory committee, which will send a recommendation on the Hacienda to the City Council by July.

Because its 55 rooms are so small, Glaze said, the hotel must be expanded to make it a viable venture.

The team had considered elevating the expansion over Bank Street, but now believes that option would be too costly, he said.

Glaze had no firm figures on the renovation and construction costs, but said a rough calculation puts the tab around $7-million. He expects construction would take about 18 months.

The Hacienda could use the city parking lot off Bank Street, he said, though the team would prefer the new garage in the proposed Orange Lake development.

Whether the city would lease or eventually sell the hotel to the team has not been decided.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or 727 869-6247.