Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey turns to Pasco EDC to get city's economy moving

NEW PORT RICHEY — City Council members desperate to unload costly real estate and rev the city's economic engine have enlisted the help of the Pasco Economic Development Council.

Council members voted unanimously Wednesday evening to hire the PEDC, though a final contract needs to be worked out. In addition to targeting dormant projects such as the redevelopment of the Hacienda Hotel, the PEDC will help the city develop an overall marketing plan, seek grants for economic development and launch an entrepreneur program to help small businesses.

The PEDC has proposed to bill the city $6,000 a month for 10 months of services. The money has already been allocated in the city's budget.

As part of the deal, PEDC vice president John Walsh will be the point-person for city matters, and a PEDC official will set up shop at City Hall to work on projects for about 16 hours a week.

The partnership represents a milestone for both sides. The city had previously used consultants from outside areas, most recently from an Orlando firm, on economic development and real estate decisions, but has never partnered with the PEDC.

And this would be the first time the PEDC provided such services to a Pasco city, CEO John Hagen told the Times.

Servicing Pasco's cities has long been a priority for the PEDC. And Hagen said New Port Richey is a great place to start, as it has unique qualities, such as its historic downtown, that need to be promoted.

"I feel like New Port Richey has more unrealized potential that any area in our community," Hagen said. "It has great bones."

Council member Bill Phillips said the city needs to move forward with selling or developing the Hacienda Hotel and the former First Baptist Church property at Orange Lake.

The city bought both sites during the real estate boom with the hope of pitching them to developers, only to be saddled with the debt payments on dormant properties after the market soured.

"Let's get off the dime and do something. I think this is the right mixture of expertise," Phillips said of the PEDC.

Phillips pointed to the Hacienda as one of the most glaring needs. For years, a proposed project with Georgia-based Community Development Partners to turn the historic building into a boutique hotel has stalled. Meanwhile, the crumbling building remains vacant and the debt service on it and other city-owned properties has brought New Port Richey to the brink of financial ruin.

The PEDC's proposal is to complete and submit a term sheet for development of the Hacienda to the council by February. PEDC staff will also help the city "evaluate the financial capacity and risk of continuing to work with CDP," and if warranted "market the property and identify other parties who could play a role in bringing the project to fruition."

Council member Judy DeBella Thomas raised the only dissent to hiring the PEDC. She did not attend the meeting or vote due to illness but had a statement read by City Clerk Doreen Summers in which she said the council should hold a work session at a later date to discuss ways the city could pursue economic development through cheaper means than the PEDC.

In her statement, DeBella Thomas said during the impending search for a new city manager, candidates with economic development experience could be sought.

She has also pushed for the Greater New Port Richey Main Street organization, which gets city grant funding, to be tapped as a resource.

New Port Richey turns to Pasco EDC to get city's economy moving 11/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two Kissimmee police officers shot to death


    KISSIMMEE — Two police officers were shot dead in Kissimmee Friday night, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.