NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — There's progress being made at the corner of U.S.19 and Main Street in New Port Richey, especially if you ask City Manager Debbie Manns.
"This is an exciting project for the city really catalyst in nature," says Manns.
The property, hopefully by summer, will be home to a 45,000 sq. ft. Keiser University and around 1,000 students and 100 employees.
"And that is very much of interest to the city for a lot of different reasons, but principally, because we expect that the student body and the staff will rely on our downtown district for a lot of their needs. And we want to solidify that district and you're introducing some new consumers in the market is a strategic move on our part," explains Manns.
There will also be a parking garage for 350 cars. Together, Manns said, it's about a $20million investment.
"Yeah, it really is the first part of our master plan, implementation strategy. And I have to tell you that it's the largest capital investment that we've had on US Highway 19 in over two decades," explains Manns.
Manns hope this is just the beginning of a public, private partnership that you'll start to see along the busy U.S. 19 corridor.
"I think this project is a demonstration that it can happen and it can happen effectively," says Manns. "It's been deferred without question for a period of time on the part of many private property owners who may have thought that the status quo was acceptable or may have deferred maintenance by nature of the fact that they didn't see anybody else investing. Well, now we're investing and it's time to come to the table and be a part of the redevelopment of New Port Ritchey."
COVID-19 has impacted this projects, but mainly due to labor restrictions. The Keenan Development Group is a little bit behind schedule but still hopes to have the project done by June 2021.