Online pledge drive begins for Hacienda
NEW PORT RICHEY - After sitting vacant and largely neglected since 2006, the historic Hacienda hotel is generating a lot of buzz of late as an online survey and online pledge drive started within the past week. City officials are collaborating with the Citizinvestor website to help raise about $35,000 through online pledges for repairs of the Spanish-style hotel that opened in 1927. Pasco Economic Development Council is asking residents for their ideas about possible uses for the Hacienda through the survey. The new initiatives follow two community cleanup days at the landmark downtown hotel Jan. 12 and Feb. 23 that attracted hundreds of volunteers.The rapid pace of developments will give the New Port Richey City Council plenty to talk about during a work session on the Hacienda to be held starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at City Hall, 5919 Main St. If each resident of the city pledged $2 apiece, the city could meet its goal for the online pledge drive, Summer Martin observed as the Pasco EDC marketing and events coordinator. The city hired Pasco EDC to help with development. The Citizinvestor “crowd funding site is for citizens who are passionate about a project,” Martin said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I thought the Hacienda fit that perfectly,” Martin remarked. Restoration of the hotel, opened in 1927, could gain national attention, Martin hopes. After only one day, the crowd-funding project for Hacienda was generating buzz. “It’s been hitting the Twitterverse like crazy.” Martin already pledged $5 toward the cause. Nothing is charged to her credit card unless the $37,800 goal is met within a 90-day deadline, which would fall on May 5. The city would reap $35,000 while the rest would cover transaction fees or other expenses. “It was like a light went off in my head” when she first learned about the crowd-funding site, Martin commented. The “grass-roots effort” to restore the Hacienda is “pretty exciting,” Pasco EDC Vice President John Walsh agreed. It’s the first time he has been involved with crowd funding a municipal project. Walsh and John Hagen, Pasco EDC president and CEO, are scheduled to appear at the city work session March 12. Some early survey results might be ready by then, Walsh said, although the survey only started March 1. The Citizinvestor website started in September from its Tampa base, co-founder Jordan Raynor said in a Wednesday phone interview. Cities such as New Port Richey often do have the money in budgets for special projects, Raynor explained. City leaders asked for help to raise $35,000 he said. It’s the fourth major project the fledgling website has tackled, Raynor said, after drives in Philadelphia, Boston and Hillsborough County. “It guarantees there is no risk to citizens or the city of New Port Richey,” Raynor said about pledges. The online process simply verifies credit card information when the pledge is made. No charge or hold is placed on the credit card unless the $37,800 goal is met. A Hacienda project description said the money could be used for structural repairs, such as walls of main lobby, repair of water leaks, replacement of window and door frames, ADA compliance, repairs of all exit doors, termite inspection and treatment, check the electrical system, repair fire alarm system, conduct asbestos survey for removal, conduct lead-based paint survey and more. Any repairs should meet the requirements of the National Register of Historic Places. The Hacienda was inducted in October 1996. To learn more, go to the Citizinvestor’s Hacienda page at www.citizinvestor.com/project/restore-the-historic-hacienda-hotel. The PEDC Hacienda survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HaciendaHotel.