NEW PORT RICHEY — The city has found a tenant and possible buyer for a building that is among New Port Richey’s most troubled real estate purchases from the mid-2000s.
During a meeting Tuesday, the New Port Richey City Council, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, approved a lease/purchase agreement with a technology company that will take over its 9,000-square-foot building at 6345 Grand Blvd. StacyTech will get a three-year lease from the city, with an option to buy the building after one year for $550,000, an amount based on a 2017 appraisal.
The building was built in 1959 and sits on a little under half an acre. Some call it the “Old Post Office,” because until 1994 it held a U.S. Postal Service office.
The First Baptist Church bought it in 1994, along with several parcels nearby, and held it until 2005. That's when New Port Richey purchased several properties, including the church sites, for $3.1million.
The real estate bust hit a few years later, and the building fell into disrepair. The Community Redevelopment Agency announced a plan in 2012 to sell the property and put it back on the city tax rolls.
The building got a new name and repairs in 2014 as the city partnered with the Pasco Economic Development Council to launch a business incubator there. Two years later, only one company remained in the incubator, and the Pasco agency pulled out. That company left earlier this year, “unable to execute its business model,” according to New Port Richey Economic Development Director Mario Iezzoni.
The city listed the building for sale, which drew interest from StacyTech, a company Iezzoni said is rapidly growing as an “IT communication solutions provider specializing in AT&T products and services.”
The company is exactly what the city is trying to attract, Iezzoni said, one that wants to employ higher-wage, younger workers. It also will get the building back on the tax rolls. And an eventual sale will discontinue thousands of dollars in interest the city continues to pay on the building. The lease will generate about $184,000 over three years, unless the company buys the building sooner.
“What you are offering here checks a lot boxes,” City Council member Matt Murphy told StacyTech officials.
StacyTech founder George Stacy, a former longtime AT&T employee, said he wants to buy the building as soon as possible. He expects to hire four or five employees to work in the New Port Richey office, adding to his 11-person staff around the state.
The company’s general manager, Shelley Sorensen, told council members that the city’s efforts to create a walkable downtown — where new upscale apartments are projected to draw younger people who want to live and work there — served as a major selling point.
“That sparked great interest for us,” she said.