With all the publicity about the city grappling with the issue of “parklets”, some other big news got missed by the Tampa Bay Times. The biggest of these items is the fact that, on Tuesday, April 17th, the city sold the old 1st Baptist Church property to a group headed up by Frank Starkey.
The Central On Orange Lake (COOL) will have a ground breaking in early June and be under construction shortly thereafter.
This is potentially the biggest development news in New Port Richey in decades. Combine these new apartments with the ones under construction at Main Street Landing and there will be some 170 nice apartments within a couple of blocks walk from the downtown. These apartments should be available by early 2019.
One downside of this new construction is that The Central will be built on property that has served for years as overflow parking for larger events in Sims Park. That parking option will cease to exist once construction starts. There are options for remote parking, so this is not the end of the world. I expect to see some budding entrepreneur offering golf cart transportation sooner rather than later.
Perhaps the larger issue will be the impact of large events in the park on people who will be living in these two projects by this time next year. The last few years have seen the Chasco Fiesta carnival wrapping around the lake. We’ve had a few complaints about this already, but I expect to see those complaints skyrocket if apartment dwellers have to put up with carnival rides directly across the street from their bedroom windows. Fortunately, the Chasco Fiesta committee is well aware of the potential for this to become a problem and they are working on alternate solutions for where the carnival is located.
Residents in Main Street Landing will have a similar issue with music being played in the Sims Park Ampitheatre. If they live in either the east building or the building fronting Main Street, the music is going to be aimed more or less at their bedroom windows. Making sure that amplified music ends at a reasonable hour should take care of this particular issue.
Frank’s catchy acronym for his apartments fits perfectly with his target market: Millennials and downsizing boomers looking for a lifestyle that involves being able to walk to work, shop, dine, or play more than it involves jumping in a car and spending time fighting traffic whenever they want to do something. His target market is looking for somewhere “cool” to live that has everything they are going to want right nearby.
One of the thing that I believe makes New Port Richey “cool” is the number of people willing to step up and try to make a difference in our community. Most of these folks are never recognized, but they are important none the less.
A few of these citizens will take a bold step and offer themselves as candidates for city council. We had a bumper crop of candidates willing to step up and try to fill the shoes of outgoing council members Bill Phillips and Judy DeBella Thomas. Both Bill and Judy served with distinction on council.
Given the high caliber of the candidates that ran for city council earlier this month, I was confident that we would have two great new additions to city council. I am excited to have Pete Altman and Matt Murphy joining us up on the dais at city council meetings. I fully expect both of them to bring lots of fresh ideas to the table: Ideas that will continue to move the city forward as we continue to remake New Port Richey into something very special.
I expect several of the other candidates to stay involved. It is the willingness of residents to step up and do their part that helps to make New Port Richey such a cool place to live.
Thank you to everyone who is working together to make New Port Richey the best place to live on the Suncoast.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor