NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — New Port Richey city leaders have agreed to a lease-purchase agreement with a developer who will renovate the Hacienda Hotel.
"I'm glad it's not being torn down," said Ken Simonson.
Simonson helped repair the hotel's roof years ago when he was just 18 years old.
"It was my first job after high school," he said. "I tell my kids every time we come, 'daddy help put that roof on.'"
It was originally built in 1927 and has had many different owners since then. But the building started to become an eyesore, so in 2004 the city purchased it for $2.2 million dollars — using taxpayer funds to make the purchase.
Workers were in the process of renovating it, but then the recession hit. May Rob Marlowe tells ABC Action News that's when work stopped.
The city was given several grants, totaling about $2.1 million dollars. They also had volunteers who chipped in to help with repairs, but the work has slowed down.
City council voted at a meeting last week to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with James Gunderson.
Gunderson is the same person who renovated the Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora — which is now doing really well. New Port Richey city leaders and taxpayers are hoping he will have the same success with the Hacienda.
The city says Gunderson's plan is to buy the hotel once renovations are done.
"It'll be nice to have it up and running again," Simonson said. "There's a lot of history there."
Gunderson's goal is to have renovations done and the hotel open by the fall of 2019.