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New Port Richey approves $213,000 redevelopment grant for downtown building

Frank Starkey invested more than $2.3 million in redeveloping at 6220 Grand Boulevard.
 
Artist rendering of the redevelopment project knwon as 6220 Grand Boulevard LLC won a $213,000 redevelopment grant from the New Port Richey Community Redevelopment Agency last week.
Artist rendering of the redevelopment project knwon as 6220 Grand Boulevard LLC won a $213,000 redevelopment grant from the New Port Richey Community Redevelopment Agency last week. [ New Port Richey ]
Published April 3

New Port Richey is updating its plan for redeveloping portions of the city, but not everything is a theoretical exercise of choosing the correct inspirational messages to bring the century-old city into an enticing, modern urban center.

As City Council members parsed redevelopment themes for the community’s future late last month, they were also making some concrete decisions about buildings and neighborhoods already transitioning from something historic to something new.

One spot where that transformation is well underway is at the corner of Grand Boulevard and Missouri Avenue where real estate developer Frank Starkey has transformed 6220 Grand Boulevard into a two-story, mixed-use project. At the urging of staff, the redevelopment board voted to award Starkey a redevelopment grant up to $213,240 for work done on that building, purchased in 2019 by a limited liability corporation called Missouri Grand in which he is listed as the sole officer and agent.

The project checks all the boxes required to receive a grant, said Greg Oravec, the city’s economic development director and assistant city manager. He was addressing council members who were sitting as the city’s redevelopment board.

It targets downtown in what is known as the Marine District, it includes a minimum investment of $500,000, it covers no more than 20 percent of the redevelopment cost and it includes the purchase and upgrade of a significant commercial property, Oravec said. The developer invested more than $2.3 million in the project.

The first floor is the restaurant Estuary, which opened just over a year ago. The eatery has received good reviews and kudos from city leaders who see it as just the kind of upscale draw that downtown New Port Richey needs. The redevelopment was largely completed last year.

Oravec reminded city officials that the building had previously been the site of another redevelopment project. A decade ago, an investor took a gamble on turning the site, which had once housed the community’s Moose Lodge, into a two-story restaurant and lounge called Dulcet.

Starkey said he appreciated the city making mention of the previous redevelopment effort. The location and building were not going to support a two-story restaurant and it was too small for a night club. He said that is why his vision included making it a full two-story building with a mixture of uses.

Previously known at the Ducet, the building at 6220 has now been transformed into a new redevelopment project by Frank Starkey known as 6220 Grand Boulevard LLC.
Previously known at the Ducet, the building at 6220 has now been transformed into a new redevelopment project by Frank Starkey known as 6220 Grand Boulevard LLC. [ New Port Richey ]

This new building concept closed in the open mezzanine upstairs and replaced that space with a full second floor of offices which can work for a single user or multiple businesses, Starkey said.

Oravec said added jobs made possible by that new working area would generate approximately $2.5 million.

New, large windows replaced walls, opening up the building, which Oravec said was a critical feature in downtown redevelopment projects. Diners can look outside while passersby can see what is happening inside. “You want the restaurants, you want the shops, you want the eye candy,” he said, “so your downtown is where people want to be.”

“This sets the standard for redevelopment in our city,” said redevelopment board member Mike Peters.

“Just looking at the before and after pictures alone ... it makes the downtown pop,” said board member Matt Murphy.

The redevelopment board also approved a $150,000 change order attached to another project that included the city’s new welcome sign at Main Street and U.S. 19. The change order adds a new feature on the southeast corner of the intersection, which will include seating and landscaping at the north end of the Keiser University property.

Funding is coming from the agency as well as private cooperative funding from Keenan Developers and Keiser University.

The Community Redevelopment Agency of New Port Richey in March approved one more new feature for their downtown entrance sign on the southeast corner of U.S. 19 and Main Street. It is a landscaped courtyard with seating area which can be used by the public and students at the adjacent Keiser University.
The Community Redevelopment Agency of New Port Richey in March approved one more new feature for their downtown entrance sign on the southeast corner of U.S. 19 and Main Street. It is a landscaped courtyard with seating area which can be used by the public and students at the adjacent Keiser University. [ New Port Richey ]

“I think this is going to be a really beautiful feature for the entrance of our city,” Peters said.

The artist’s rendering of a courtyard caught Murphy’s attention. He said he hoped that the city made it clear that when the planting work was done that it looked like the drawing with mature trees, not small new plants that would take years to grow. He joked that he didn’t want the experience of seeing the Big Mac in the McDonald’s commercial and getting it home, unwrapping the burger and saying, “it’s not the same.”

City Manager Debbie Manns assured the board that the plan was to bring mature, lush trees to the intersection. She also said that the university plans to beef up its landscaping on site as well.