NEW PORT RICHEY — The firm interested in redeveloping the historic Hacienda Hotel has told city officials it is interested in possibly expanding the landmark building into the nearby Gloria Swanson parking lot.
Expanding to the parking lot northeast of the Hacienda, on the other side of Bank Street, recently became a last-ditch proposal by the city to salvage plans by Community Development Partners, a Jacksonville firm that wants to refashion the Hacienda into a 93-room boutique hotel.
The city bought the Hacienda nearly a decade ago, hoping to make it a cornerstone of the downtown redevelopment effort, but previous plans to turn the now-empty building into a lecture hall or a bed-and-breakfast have fallen apart.
CDP officials had sought to expand west into a portion of Sims Park, but those plans were halted after City Council members learned of two separate title constraints requiring the park land remain park land.
Since that discovery, the city has done another search to see if there are any title roadblocks to developing the Gloria Swanson parking lot. It came up clear with the exception of a small easement between the existing hotel and parking lot. But city officials do not view the 1970s easement held by a business from Georgia as a major roadblock.
"We have to look and see if the business still even exists, but we don't see it as the kind of problem we faced going west," said City Manager John Schneiger.
There are no plans set in stone for how the hotel will be constructed, but initial thoughts are for the existing historic building along Main Street to be refurbished with restaurant and retail spaces on the first floor, and conference space and a spa on the second floor. The second floor could also hold some suites for overnight stays, CDP vice president Andrew Ham said Wednesday.
Additional rooms would be built in a tower on the Gloria Swanson parking lot, which would not connect to the existing historic structure. An old post office building adjacent to the parking lot would also need to be razed for hotel parking, according to Schneiger.
But it's still too early to know how tall the tower would need to be to accommodate enough rooms for the hotel to be economically viable. All that's been discussed so far is the idea of building on the parking lot.
"Anything beyond that would be conjecture at this point. It's just too early," Ham said.