New Port Richey's Hacienda Hotel Ripe For Restoration, Redevelopment

The historic Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey awaits its future after the city gave it a recent makeover with the help of the local community.
In January 2013, City leaders identified the Hacienda as a community project and organized a cleanup of the 86-year-old hotel property. With the help of nearly 400 community volunteers working over two days, the City cleaned both the interior and exterior of the hotel.

"We had to turn people away due to the limit on the number of people allowed inside the building at one time,'' says City Clerk Doreen Summers. Following the elaborate cleanup, the City completed the black topping of parking and painting of the Hotel's exterior walls using city funds. Original pieces of the Hotel's fountain were restored with the help of donations from the Holiday Rotary Club.

The City of New Port Richey bought The Hacienda Hotel at the height of the real estate boom in 2003 with the intention of restoring the historic icon to its former glory. Since then the City has been looking for willing buyers who can convert it into a boutique hotel and help revitalize the City's Downtown.

Designed by Thomas Reed Martin, the Hacienda Hotel is influenced by the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The two-story building is symmetrical in design with pink stucco exterior walls, red-tiled roofs and arched windows with wrought-iron balconies. In the 1920s, the City of New Port Richey was known as the "Hollywood of the East'' and the Hacienda Hotel was a popular among many film stars like Thomas Meighan and Gloria Swanson of the silent era movies.

The Hacienda, remained a thriving hub of the local social scene until the late 1970s after which it was converted to an assisted-living facility. In 1996, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and in recent decades, fell into decline. It has been vacant since 2006.

Recently, with the hope of turning things around, the City hired the Pasco County Economic Development Council to evaluate proposals and develop marketing strategies for the Hotel.

"The business model is going to be the key deciding factor,'' says John Hagen, President of the Pasco County EDC. "Although the City is keen on owning the Hotel, it is also open to other ideas. Currently, there are three developers, who are interested in Hacienda.''
The City won't pick a general contractor until additional funds can be identified to conduct an architectural study that is required before commencing the restoration work. Readers interested in helping defray the costs can visit Citizinvestor, an online crowdfunding website that is collecting funds for the project.

The total cost of renovation can only be estimated after the study, which involves assessment of structural and environmental issues associated with restoration. Alternative uses such as banquet facilities, restaurant, retail, museum, or art gallery, Bed & Breakfast are being considered for the Hotel's reuse.

Located on Main Street and within close proximity to key urban elements such as the Sims Park and the Cotee River, the Hacienda Hotel holds great potential for attracting additional visitors to the City's downtown and triggering the redevelopment of Main Street.

Summers points to the City of Safety Harbor, where the restoration of one of its historic buildings into a hotel and spa, helped in revitalizing of the entire downtown.

"The renovation of the Hacienda Hotel is one of the key elements in the revitalization of New Port Richey downtown,'' Hagen agrees.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Sources: Doreen Summers, City of New Port Richey; John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council
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