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A vision and a challenge

The early architectural drawings are beautiful to the point where it’s hard to recognize them as Daytona Beach.

In the fight to clean up Daytona Beach’s troubled core beach area, and continue the progress on its riverfront downtown, we have often offered this advice: Look for modest but achievable ways to reclaim abandoned businesses, weed-filled parking lots and outward signs of decay. Then hope, and expect, that grander and more transformative projects will take root.

But Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. isn’t waiting around for that incremental change. Earlier this month, officials with the Daytona-Beach based property investment firm proposed two major projects — one on beachside, the other on property adjacent to the Beach Street shopping district — that could accelerate the revitalization of communities that desperately need help.

Daytona Beach has seen developers weave castles in the air before, and watched them collapse and blow away just as readily. This is different because Consolidated-Tomoka is local. Executives with the company understand the challenges and opportunities in the Daytona Beach market far better than any out-of-town developer could. They’ve seen the blight around Main Street, the panhandlers and open drug use within blocks of the city’s beachfront and along Ridgewood Avenue. They know what they’re getting into.

And yet, they believe it can get better. The early architectural drawings are beautiful to the point where it’s hard to recognize them as Daytona Beach. Right now, they’re just ideas of what could happen — but the vision they present is a grand one.

The beachside project would be directly south of the Ocean Center complex, extending to Main Street. Plans include hundreds of upscale apartments or condominiums in a high-rise tower, with retail and strolling areas and a covered pedestrian overpass that would give residents safe access to the beach, hotels and dining on the east side of State Road A1A. A new garage would replace surface parking in the area.

The mainland project, code-named “Project Delta,” proposes 300 more luxury apartments and retail space, including a spot for a grocery store — something downtown has lacked for decades. The target area runs from Bay Street south to International Speedway Boulevard, and Ridgewood Avenue to Palmetto Avenue. Consolidated-Tomoka already owns much of that property, including the site the First Baptist Church will soon vacate. That proposal is a natural complement to other exciting developments in the area, including Brown & Brown’s headquarters that could bring 600 employees to downtown.

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Consolidated-Tomoka proposes big projects to revitalize Daytona’s downtown, beachside

After triggering a surge in new homes and commercial development along LPGA Boulevard, Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. is now turning its sights on Daytona Beach’s downtown and beachside.

The company recently submitted preliminary plans to the city for two major projects that could transform Daytona Beach’s historic business district as well as its beachside tourism district.

The first, code-named “Project Delta,” is a redevelopment project that could bring 300 “luxury” apartments, a grocery store, street-front restaurants and shops and a parking garage to the downtown property Consolidated-Tomoka owns where First Baptist Church is currently located.

The other, with the simple working title “Main Street Mixed-Use,” would redevelop a city-owned parking lot directly south of the Ocean Center convention complex. The project calls for building a high-rise that would include street-front retail, a parking garage and either apartments or condominiums, along with a covered pedestrian overpass connecting the Ocean Center and the Hilton.

Consolidated-Tomoka is a Daytona Beach-based real estate investment company whose sales of land in the area surrounding the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange in recent years have become the sites of new home communities such as Latitude Margaritaville and ICI Homes’ Mosaic, as well as Tanger Outlets mall, Tomoka Town Center and the Trader Joe’s distribution center.

The company recently commissioned a nationally recognized architecture firm to create conceptual plans for both Project Delta and the Main Street mixed-use project.

Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm unveiled conceptual renderings of the two projects at a Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast event last week at the clubhouse at LPGA International.

“It could be the catalyst for more projects,” he told the gathering.

Both potential projects would be built by third-party developers, which in the case of Project Delta could end up co-owning the property along with Consolidated-Tomoka.

John Albright, the president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka, stressed that there are no guarantees that either project will be built.

“We are hopeful that we can be successful in assisting the city in having these dynamic developments lead the way as catalysts to create much needed housing in the urban cores to bring back both a vibrant downtown and (beachside) Main Street where people can live/work,” he wrote in an email.

“These renderings are just that — images that show potential developments which can, and most likely will, change depending on many factors,” he added.

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Road to recovery? Amid vacancies, A1A successes sprout

New businesses, including Hard Rock, Landshark, hope to spark growth along A1A

DAYTONA BEACH — It was a tad chilly for morning margaritas on the Atlantic Ocean side of State Road A1A.

But that was the drink of choice in late January as area leaders toasted the opening of the Jimmy Buffett-branded LandShark Bar & Grill and adjoining, separately-owned Cocina 214 Tex-Mex eatery on a 6-acre beachfront lot just north of SunSplash Park.

“It has been a really fast year in making this happen,” said John Albright, president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., landowner and developer of the $6 million dual-restaurant project at 451 S. Atlantic Ave.

“Our whole mission here is basically to get this property activated and get the beachside activated,” Albright told customers, employees, Parrotheads and local dignitaries assembled in the parking lot. “To me, this is the potential of Daytona Beach, and this is a start, and there’s a lot more to come.”

New development on A1A has long been overshadowed by the overwhelming number of vacant lots and empty storefronts that blemish the iconic roadway that runs north and south along the World’s Most Famous Beach.

The new restaurants are touted as a potential catalyst that can ignite other beachside development. A little more than a month after opening, both eateries are reporting healthy business, poised to become success stories along the 10.5-mile stretch of A1A from Ormond Beach to Daytona Beach Shores.

“We’re ecstatic at being here,” said David Crabtree, president and CEO of Orlando-based IMCMV, licensee of the restaurant chain started by Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings company. “It has exceeded all our expectations.”

Lounging recently on one of the restaurant’s bright yellow, heavily branded wooden deck chairs, Crabtree caught the attention of Rich Torella, the restaurant’s general manager, to compliment him on two record days the previous weekend.

“Actually, every week has been a record week for this place,” Crabtree said. “We’re doing about 50 percent more business than we planned on doing. We’ve been received very well by all the tourists and local consumers, as well.”

Next door, as the early lunch crowd arrived at Cocina 214, restaurant co-founder Lambrine Macejewski echoed that satisfaction. The beachfront spot is the second location for the eatery, which has established a loyal following at its original Winter Park restaurant, which opened in 2011.

“We just had the Daytona 500 and we did really well with that,” said Macejewski, who is optimistic about the potential impact of other new projects on A1A. “It’s all great and positive. The community is full of wonderful people.”

Yet she also understands that two new restaurants are merely the start of a long process.

“It takes perseverance, especially when you’re trying to change big things,” Macejewski said.

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