NEW PORT RICHEY — The city has opened its doors to craft beer pubs setting up shop downtown and in commercial zones, as well as allowing larger brewing entities along highways and in light industrial districts.
New Port Richey City Council members approved an ordinance Sept. 19 that created new zoning categories for craft beer establishments, including tap rooms, beer gardens, microbreweries and smaller nano-breweries.
The council entertained the ordinance after city staffers said three brewers had expressed interest in coming to the city, including one already planned as a tenant in the revamping of a former antique store now known as 5800 Main LLC. by owners Frank Starkey and Jose Cardenas, who already have landed Wright's Natural Market as the project's anchor tenant.
New Port Richey resident Bryan Hackman, a home brewer who is thrilled to bring his beers to Main Street, is looking to open his Cotee River Brewing Co. in the building in early 2018.
But as those plans began to flourish, it became apparent the city did not have a place in its zoning code for the brewpub Hackman envisions, where he can make and sell beer on site. The interest in bringing an industry to the city that has exploded in recent years led to the creation of the ordinance, which obtained unanimous approval from the council.
"It's going have a cool vibe," Mayor Rob Marlowe said.
Deputy Mayor Jeff Starkey has been pushing for the city to lure the craft beer market to New Port Richey, saying it brings the exact clientele of young professionals and millennials the city is trying to cater to.
"It brings a totally different dynamic to downtowns," Starkey said.
For Hackman, it is a perfect opportunity to turn his brewing hobby into a business in the place he lives and where his wife already runs a business — the White Heron Tea & Gifts shop on Grand Boulevard.
"We see the growth of the city," Hackman said, "and we think bringing a brewery to downtown will be vital to moving the city in the right direction in terms of economic development."