The completion of key parts of the Hacienda Hotel renovation project have some people close to the effort hopeful that 2018 could bring major progress.

  • City bought the historic property in 2004
  • Work on the building began about 4 years ago
  • Leaders hope to sign developer, operator this year
  • MORE: Friends of the Hacienda

"It's a pivotal year in that we're going to be completing what we call the 'hard part,'" said Mario Iezzoni, New Port Richey's economic development director.

Iezzoni said the city bought the vacant historic property in 2004 with the intention to renovate it, but the recession put those plans on hold.

"It was difficult for some of us to see this place just sitting here, knowing the opportunities that exist for this building," said Bob Langford, chairman of the nonprofit group Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey.

Thanks to the efforts of that group and city leaders, work on the building began about four years ago. Iezzoni says there have been engineering examinations, a geotechnical survey and other projects. Next up: replacing windows and doors and restoring the historic staircase.

"The reason why contractors are so fearful of getting into this project is because it can be very, very expensive," Iezzoni said. "What we've done as part of our process with the Hacienda Hotel is to do the hard stuff first."

Mario Iezzoni says there have been engineering examinations, a geotechnical survey, and other projects. (Spectrum Bay News 9)

Iezzoni said the hope is that will lead to signing a developer and operator this year.

In the meantime, Friends of the Hacienda is working on planning upcoming events and building tours to continue raising money for restoration efforts.

Langford said he'd like to see the first floor of the building open for public use by the end of this year. While events are held at the Hacienda, he said organizers must clear any plans with city officials and the fire and police department.

"This is a construction zone. There's no power, no water. So, all those things need to be addressed," he said.