NEW PORT RICHEY — Last month's community cleanup at the Hacienda Hotel went so well, officials want to do it again.
This time, they're looking for volunteers to repaint the historic hotel — still a pinkish coral shade with white trim — as well as replace the windows, install an irrigation system and plant sod. Residents are welcome to roll up their sleeves; those with experience in building and landscaping maintenance are also needed to lend a hand.
The effort will run from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 23.
More than 350 volunteers showed up for the first event on Jan. 12, pulling weeds, yanking out old carpet, scrubbing the kitchen and former hotel rooms, and priming the exterior for a fresh coat of paint. The goal: to gradually return the Hacienda to its former splendor.
Built in the 1920s, the Hacienda Hotel was originally known as a "Bit of Old Spain Amid the Palms" and was visited by some of the most famous celebrities of that era. The building at 5621 Main St. was operated as a hotel for many years before its conversion into an assisted living facility.
The city bought the landmark hotel in 2004 for $2.21 million, hoping to make it a cornerstone of a downtown redevelopment effort. There were plans to turn it into a lecture hall or a bed-and-breakfast or a boutique hotel with a conference area, a restaurant and a spa. None of those ideas came to fruition. In the meantime, the vacant building suffered from vandalism and neglect.
Volunteers for the next fix-up effort are asked to sign up by noon Friday. To sign up, email Marilyn Mercado, the executive assistant to the New Port Richey city manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (727) 853-1021. A reply email will be sent to all of the volunteers with relevant information.