NEW PORT RICHEY — City leaders say they are poised to provide the developer of the long-troubled downtown Main Street Landing project with nearly $2 million in incentives to get construction going again.
During a meeting Tuesday night, the New Port Richey Community Redevelopment Agency, which is composed of City Council members, voted unanimously to approve the parameters of a proposed agreement with Gainesville developer Ken McGurn to revive the project.
The city first approved Main Street Landing in 2004 as a mixed-use residential and commercial development located along a key downtown corridor on the city's waterfront, but construction ground to a halt amid the real estate bust, and the agreement with the city expired.
Since then, city officials have decried the shell left behind, with Mayor Rob Marlowe once calling it an "eyesore" at the city's gateway, just east of U.S. 19.
Now, more than a decade after the first development agreement, the city and McGurn are on the cusp of a new deal.
"We need to get this done," Marlowe said Tuesday.
But plans for the development have changed.
The city and McGurn have agreed that, initially, the project will move forward with between 72 and 96 residential rental units. Plans for a mixed-use residential/commercial project are on hold, but not dead; the first floor of one of the three towers will be built last, with an eye toward converting it to commercial use should rentals in the rest of the development dictate demand.
Plans are for the units to be upscale, with granite-like countertops, hurricane-force windows, LED lights, washer and dryer, Internet, ceramic or porcelain tile and a microwave. The complex also will have covered parking and a pool, city economic development director Mario Iezzoni told the board.
In exchange, the proposed development agreement, which is still subject to two public hearings, mandates that the city make a payment from the CRA to the developer of $1.45 million when 90 percent of the project obtains a certificate of occupancy from the city, which must occur within three years of execution of the agreement. The city estimates that the money will be recouped through property taxes generated by the project within 10 years.
The city is also pledging to pay $246,240 for water and sewer impact fees, and for the construction of a seawall, which was part of the original 2004 agreement, to the tune of $118,793.
McGurn told the Times after the vote that a final agreement could be wrapped up by the end of the year, and he estimated that construction would then take 14 months. He praised city officials for their positive outlook in coming up with a new deal, but offered tepid excitement over the CRA's vote after years of negotiations.
"It moves it forward one more step," he said.