NEW PORT RICHEY — Irritated over a higher price tag for streetscaping, New Port Richey City Council members nonetheless approved the landscaping and other upgrades at the corner with Main Street Landing.
Last year, the city set aside up to $200,000 from Penny for Pasco sales tax funds for the project at Main Street and River Road. The lowest bid, however, was $278,227 from Southern Road and Bridge, a Tarpon Springs-based general contractor.
To defray the higher cost, Ken McGurn, Main Street Landing's Gainesville-based developer, pledged to contribute an extra $45,000, according to Development Director Lisa Fierce. That lowers the expense for the city closer to $233,000.
Plus, the city will get back some of that Penny for Pasco revenue from a reimbursement from Main Street Landing for improvements on the company's property.
Nevertheless, “I don't like the options,” Councilman Jeff Starkey said.
Council members, however, were unwilling to wait any longer after several extensions of the project. The original agreement was dated Dec. 20, 2011, with an extension to Sept. 8, 2012.
More than a year has passed since construction crews departed after finishing the exterior shell of the vacant Main Street Landing building.
Because of various negative economic factors, the Main Street Landing project, which began in 2004, ground to a halt in 2006, forcing McGurn's original partner in the venture, former New Port Richey Mayor Peter Altman, to drop out.
After the construction halt, fragments of the building stood along the southwestern bank of the Pithlachascotee River at the Main Street bridge. The 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent recession delayed efforts to revive the project, a mix of upper-floor condos and ground-floor office-retail space.
The revised streetscaping is a “pretty good deal for him,” Starkey said of McGurn, the managing partner of Main Street Landing LLP.
“I still think it's a good idea,” Mayor Bob Consalvo said about Main Street Landing. McGurn has made many concessions, Consalvo said.
“The interest is there,” Consalvo said about restarting the project. At one point, people had placed down payments on more than 40 of the 55 residential units.
McGurn has said he would proceed to finish the interior of the building once streetscaping concluded, interim City Manager Susan Dillinger reported. That could mean another $1 million investment from him.
The city might have some verbal assurances, but has no obligation in writing, Starkey said.
Streetscape work could start soon, Public Works Director Sherman Applegate hopes, perhaps within the month. While the contractor could have until September 2014 to finish, the project could possibly conclude as early as the end of this year.