Downtown New Port Richey Year in Review
Downtown New Port Richey is defined by our resilience. In a difficult year, businesses have triumphed. We have learned to adapt. We have embraced our community as home. This year, we came together as friends and neighbors to support one another through tough times, and to celebrate triumphs. Now, we look back at some of the best moments from the past year.
Over a Dozen Businesses Open in Downtown New Port Richey
In what can only be described as a banner year for downtown New Port Richey, the community seemed to pay no mind to national economic trends. While the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered and shut down businesses throughout the country, downtown NPR saw a wave of new business owners get their foot in the door this year. All told, 18 new businesses joined the downtown community, and the total continued to climb as of late-December. 2021 holds even more promise, with projects like The Commons on Grand, The Hacienda Hotel, and Keiser University slated to be finished within the first six months of the year.
CHASGLO LIGHTS UP NPR
(This event occurred before my employment with the City began – this write up is by Michele Miller for the Tampa Bay Times)
The moon was close to being full, but the night was lit up with a different kind of luminosity as ChasGlo got underway Saturday night in downtown New Port Richey. The inaugural event, presented by The Central on Orange Lake and Crumbled Design, featured an array of local artists, aerial and walking performers, live music and an assortment of interactive art activities in the “backyards” of three Main Street businesses. ChasGlo was the brainchild of Frank Starkey of People Places and The Central, and initiated by Alana Crumbley of Florida Properties, said Lia Gallegos of Rock the Boat Productions. “It’s definitely something different of New Port Richey,” she said, adding that the pop-up art installation was created to promote and focus on urban lifestyles and the upside of living in an active, walkable urban community.
LIS’S PIECES HOSTS PASCO PROM
If you had told Pasco County high schoolers that their spring break would be extended from a week to four months, you might have made some teenagers very happy. The reality, however, was that seniors who were looking forward to prom, college visits, and graduation were disappointed when the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt. With all of these traditions being cancelled, businesses in downtown NPR came together to offer West Pasco seniors the storybook prom they deserved. Lisa Langford, owner of the award-winning Lis’s Pieces Artisan Boutique, had just completed renovations on her new upstairs event venue, the Grand Ballroom. Her across-the-street neighbor, J+H Consignment, donated prom dresses. After joining forces with an army of local businesses, Pasco Prom 2020 became an unforgettable experience for hundreds of local high schoolers.
JULY FOURTH RIDE-AND-ROLL
With KIAFest on hold, traditional parades out of the question, and a community craving some celebration, the Cotee River Golf Cart Owners and the City of New Port Richey turned July 4th into an incredible afternoon for the community. Nearly 150 golf carts, bikes, and scooters hit the pavement to spread patriotic spirit throughout downtown NPR. Businesses throughout the community got in on the fun by offering food, drinks, and discounts all-day long! In a year that required us to make changes, this was the perfect example of our community’s perseverance.
MULLINS MUSIC ROCKS THE RICHEY SUNCOAST THEATRE
Local non-profit music school, Mullins Music, is well known for their electric Rock Week summer camp. Experienced and critically recognized musicians are recruited to downtown New Port Richey, where they teach burgeoning stars about the ins and outs of live performance. The campers, many of whom are regular students of Eric and Marina Mullins, take total ownership of the production. They create the set list, the costumes, the band names, and even their own original composition!
THE CENTRAL ON ORANGE LAKE AND MAIN STREET LANDING BRING DOWNTOWN APARTMENT OPTIONS
At long last, downtown New Port Richey has its own upscale apartments! The Central on Orange Lake, a project of developer Frank Starkey, brings a modern classical approach to lakeside living. The abundance of natural materials and open space offer a calm, inviting vibe to each apartment. Already nearing capacity, young professionals have flocked to live in close proximity to the walkable downtown. Main Street Landing, on the west end of Main Street, offers residents a laid back riverfront vibe with plenty of frontage for downtown parades and events. The high-rising ceilings make every unit feel like the penthouse suite, and the first-floor businesses offer residents unique convenience.
ORDINANCE ONE LAUNCHES MINI MAKERS’ MARKET
With breweries facing an onslaught of red tape from the State of Florida this year, Ordinance One owner BJ Ciper has pulled out all of the stops to keep his business going. In addition to a new bar menu that he rolled out with restaurant supplier Welbilt, BJ and his wife Natalie launched an open-air craft consortium: the Mini Makers Market. Drawing vendors who specialize in jewelry, crystals, and greenery, the market is another case of New Port Richey’s trend toward health and wellness.
KEISER UNIVERSITY BEGINS CONSTRUCTION
With the demolition of the old Suncoast News building comes a newsworthy story in itself. Keiser University, which currently leases space along US-Highway 19, broke ground on a new campus at the corner of US-19 and Main Street. With expectations of Keiser opening by Summer 2021, the City of New Port Richey finalized plans to build a parking garage on the property that will be shared between students, faculty, and downtown visitors.
COTEE RIVER KAYAKERS CLUB LAUNCHES IN NPR
While gatherings were discouraged this year, more and more folks took to nature for an opportunity to be social while distanced. The Cotee River Kayakers Club, now sitting at just under 900 members, was no more than an idea at the end of summer. Now, with dozens of folks having led and participated in group paddles, it’s become a go-to destination for paddlers to exchange ideas and plan trips.