6-story condo in New Port Richey to replace aging hotel

In the works for a half-dozen years, the condominium and new hotel complex on U.S. 19 at Marine Parkway is expected to come in for a landing.

On Tuesday, the New Port Richey City Council is expected to finalize rezoning the 3.67-acre property that will include two six-story condominium buildings and a new hotel to replace the aging Magnuson Hotel on-site now. That height will make the development among the tallest in the area.

“We’re very excited for this project,” Eric Simone, one of the principals in the Royal Five Hospitality development, told council members last month in the first of two hearings on the rezoning. “We hope you guys are, too.”

His family bought the site for $3 million in 2015, and Simone said the original plan was to get the redevelopment of the property started within a year, but that didn’t happen. Now that the project, known as Aqua Harbor, is closer to reality, he said that several hotel brands have expressed interest in possibly signing on.

The view from the property down an adjacent canal, Simone said, provides “one of the most beautiful sunsets” around, promising to make the new spot “a crown jewel of New Port Richey.”

“I’m looking forward to this, too,” said New Port Richey Mayor Chopper Davis. “I think it will bring in a lot of jobs,” and not just from the construction work, he added.

The old hotel will be razed under the plan. Two condo buildings will be built with 96 total units. Another 92-room hotel will also be built on the site, acting City Manager Robert Rivera told council members during the first discussion. The rezoning would designate the site as a “planned unit development,” which would allow the project to move forward but with specific conditions.

Those would include added landscaping, specified numbers of parking spaces, sidewalks along the roadways and the canal, underground storm water holding and a minimum turning radius in parking areas. Bicycle racks and benches are also planned, and the condos and hotel will each have their own swimming pools but will share an event space. In addition, the condominium would have an active recreational park and a dog park, Rivera said.

According to the city’s staff report, the intersection is “a major focal point for the city” and is targeted as part of a larger redevelopment plan. The report also notes that a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 19 at that intersection has been discussed as part of the long-term plan for the area.

“Everybody is pretty excited about it,” said nearby resident and local Realtor Scott Morris. He did ask city officials whether anything would happen to the existing service road into Widow Fletchers waterfront restaurant just south of the site. Officials said there was no plan for a change.

They also told him that problems neighbors have had with people who have made the existing hotel a residence will not continue with the new hotel due to city rules prohibiting a guest from staying more than 28 days.

“We’ve waited a long time” for the development, said council member Kelly Mothershead.

Council member Mike Peters marveled at how the development and all its features came together on that spot. “They’ve packed just about as much as you could” onto the site, he said. “It truly will be a crown jewel.”