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Avalon Park Daytona poised to break ground for 1,600 homes, retail space later this year

First phase to bring 1,600 homes, commercial development to area west of I-95

DAYTONA BEACH — Orlando developer Beat Kahli confirmed plans to break ground on the first phase of his massive Avalon Park Daytona Beach development here in the second half of this year.

The native of Switzerland also expects to soon complete his purchase of 6,200 acres of timberland on the other side of Tiger Bay State Forest for his development. He hopes to build a 300-megawatt solar farm, pending regulatory approval.

The initial phase of Avalon Park Daytona Beach will bring more than 1,600 homes and 90,000 square feet of commercial space to an area along the south side of State Road 40/West Granada Boulevard roughly a mile west of Interstate 95.

A number of area residents have raised concerns about the enormous size of the planned Avalon Park Daytona Beach development. But consider this:

The commercial space in the initial phase will be less than double the size of the 53,000-square-foot mega Buc-ee’s convenience store that opened March 22 four miles to the south, next to the I-95/LPGA Boulevard interchange.

Upon full build out, however, the 3,000-acre Avalon Park Daytona Beach development is slated to have 10,000 homes, townhouses and apartments and 1 million square feet of commercial space. The latter would be nearly the size of Volusia Mall.

Kahli said it likely will take at least 20 years to get to that point.

“Look at how long it took for Avalon Park Orlando,” he said. “We moved in the first homeowners in the summer of 1999. It took us five to six years to have the core of the town and more than 20 to finish it. I always like to grow organically. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

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Future looks bright for Daytona sunglass maker Costa; new HQ set to open next year

The future looks bright for Daytona sunglass maker Costa. As sales grow, the company is getting set to expand its operations with the opening of a new HQ next year.

DAYTONA BEACH — Ray Ferguson died in June at age 82, but Costa Del Mar, the sunglass company he founded in 1983, continues to grow.

Today, the company is one of the world’s largest makers of sunglasses and employs approximately 350 workers here.

After having grown its operations here in 2016 by adding a distribution center in the former auto parts plant across the street from its headquarters on Mason Avenue, the company is looking to expand yet again.

Local developer Mike Cotton, whose Center Point Business Park at 2361 Mason Ave. currently serves as the headquarters for Costa, is constructing a new 44,000-square-foot building down the street.

That building, going up at the corner of Dunn and Mason avenues, is set to become the new headquarters for Costa Del Mar in the fall of next year.

Costa will continue to lease space in the two buildings it currently occupies at Center Point, converting its present corporate offices into additional manufacturing facilities

“We’re on a very good growth trajectory,” said Michelle Crockett, the company’s vice president of operations. “We do everything from marketing to sales, manufacturing and distribution.

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Downtown Daytona project gets first 2 approvals

City commissioners unanimously approved zoning and comprehensive plan changes that allow up to 300 new luxury apartments, shops, a grocery store, restaurants and parking garage on the block just east of Ridgewood Avenue that’s been occupied by First Baptist Church since 1898.

DAYTONA BEACH — A key block in the city’s historic downtown core took a leap toward the future Wednesday night.

City commissioners unanimously approved zoning and comprehensive plan changes that allow up to 300 new luxury apartments, shops, a grocery store, restaurants and parking garage on the block just east of Ridgewood Avenue that’s been occupied by First Baptist Church since 1898. The church is building a new campus on Tomoka Farms Road and is relocating this fall.

“I think it’ll have a large impact downtown and bring people back downtown again,” City Commissioner Ruth Trager said after Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s a lovely part of the city with Riverfront Park. The idea of a grocery store there to me is very exciting. I can see nothing but positivity.”

The vote was the first of two decisions needed from city commissioners to solidify the changes. Final votes on amending the property’s comprehensive plan and switching the zoning from downtown redevelopment to planned development are slated to be taken at commissioners’ June 19 meeting. A yes vote on the comprehensive plan changes would allow more of the property to be designated for high-intensity uses and increase the density from 40 dwelling units per acre to 150 housing units per acre.

Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. has bought out most of the block dominated by First Baptist’s buildings. The block, which until recently was also home to First Methodist Church, is bordered by Ridgewood Avenue, International Speedway Boulevard, Palmetto Avenue and Bay Street.

Demolition of the three First Baptist buildings remaining on the property could start in October and construction will begin next year.

Designs are being finalized, but for now the conceptual plan puts a five-story apartment building on the corner of Bay Street and Palmetto Avenue. The multi-story parking garage, which could have at least 400 parking spaces, would stand at Ridgewood and Bay. The design shows the garage and apartment building connected by a covered pedestrian overpass and street-level retail shops in both buildings.

Renderings show the grocery store and its parking lot on the corner of ISB and Palmetto, a standalone building in the middle of the property that could be either a restaurant or shop, and a restaurant fronting Ridgewood between the existing Popeye’s fast-food eatery and Beck’s office building.

If city commissioners approve the land use changes, the city and Consolidated-Tomoka officials will sign off on a planned district agreement that would require the first round of applications for construction permits to be submitted within five years. Construction would have to be substantially complete within eight years. Any additional phases would have to be complete within 20 years.

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Grocery store wars heat up

DAYTONA BEACH — The area’s first Lucky’s Market roared out of the gate in Ormond Beach earlier this month and continues to draw hordes of shoppers more than a week after its grand opening.

“Oh my gosh, it’s been phenomenal. The crowds keep coming,” said Melissa Bradford, store director for the beachside Lucky’s at 101 E. Granada Blvd., on Thursday.

But the upscale Colorado-based grocer is just one of a number of national supermarket chains expanding their presence in the greater Daytona Beach area.

Others include ALDI, the German-based discount grocer that is set to open a new store in Ormond Beach along West Granada Boulevard this fall, as well as Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets, which is opening a 54,000-square-foot store at New Smyrna Beach Regional Shopping Center on May 23 that will be its largest in the Volusia-Flagler area.

Publix is also set to open a store this fall off of LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach, just west of Interstate 95.

The store will become the anchor tenant of a shopping center called Latitude Landings next to the entrance of the fast-growing Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community.

Lucky’s is also believed to be considering a second store in the area at the northeast corner of LPGA and Williamson boulevards in Daytona Beach.

And developers have proposed grocery store-anchored projects in both downtown Daytona Beach and Port Orange.

In addition, Sam’s Club is nearing completion of a new membership warehouse store on the southeast quadrant of the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange.

The 140,000-square-foot store at Tomoka Town Center, which is set to open in either late July or early August, will replace the existing nearly 30-year-old Sam’s Club store on Beville Road.

The increase in supermarkets here comes amid a growing battle among grocers both locally and nationally that includes e-commerce giant Amazon and Internet home delivery meal kit providers such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh.

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B.Braun eyes further expansion in Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH — German medical products manufacturer B.Braun, which expanded its existing plant and opened a distribution center here last year, is now considering adding more facilities in Daytona Beach, a top executive has confirmed.

In addition, the company, which currently employs just under 140 workers locally, expects to increase its Daytona Beach workforce to at least 300 as it gears up to begin full production next year, said Bruce Heugel, a senior vice president with B.Braun who oversees the company’s U.S. operations.

The plant could potentially grow to as many as 500 workers should more manufacturing facilities be added, he said.

“We’re not done expanding in Daytona Beach,” Heugel said.

The B.Braun executive, in a phone interview on Friday, confirmed that his company intends to develop a portion of the 35 acres it recently acquired immediately east of its Daytona Beach plant at 1845 Mason Ave.

But with wetlands accounting for at least half of that wooded property, Heugel said it has yet to be determined exactly what his company will be able to build there.

“It could be more manufacturing facilities or it could be office space or used as a parking lot,” he said of the portion of the land that is buildable.

Even if the land were used for the latter, Heugel said, any new construction would allow the company to expand its existing plant, possibly by converting the current paved employee parking lot into manufacturing facilities.

Heugel spoke with The News-Journal to clarify an announcement B.Braun made at an event in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

At the event, CEO Caroll Neubauer announced a $1 billion “Solutions for Life” investment his company was making in “new and enhanced IV therapy manufacturing facilities” in North America.

That investment included a “new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Daytona Beach,” as well as “modernizations to existing facilities in Irvine, California and Allentown, Pennsylvania,” according to the news release.

Heugel told The News-Journal that the $1 billion has already been spent and includes the $340 million it has already invested in Daytona Beach to date.

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Brown & Brown project making a ‘colossal difference’

The insurance giant’s $40M HQ plan already making an impact by creating jobs, attracting other developers

DAYTONA BEACH — Brown & Brown’s planned 11-story headquarters complex on North Beach Street, which recently began construction, is being hailed by community leaders for ushering in a much-needed renaissance of this city’s struggling downtown.

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry described the $40 million project as one that is already making a “colossal difference” for the city because of its promise of bringing hundreds of high-paying jobs and by “creating energy and vibrance in the downtown area.”

Brown & Brown CEO J. Powell Brown said his company is “excited that this building will be part of the redevelopment of downtown.”

Noting the fact that the insurance brokerage that has grown to be the sixth-largest in the country, was founded in 1939 just a few blocks away by his grandfather and uncle, Brown told the gathering, “We’ve always been and always will be committed to this community.”

John Albright, the CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka, was one of the more than 300 people who turned out for Brown & Brown’s invitation-only flag-raising event.

“This kind of commitment and investment will do wonders for downtown,” Albright said of Brown & Brown’s project.

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Construction job market red hot in Volusia-Flagler

With the U.S. unemployment rate falling to a new 50-year low of 3.6 percent in April, the number of construction jobs in the Volusia-Flagler area has risen to a new post-recession high.

Builders and subcontractors in the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach metro area added 1,300 jobs in March to boost the number of workers employed in construction to 14,800, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. Figures for April won’t be available until later this month.

The 10 percent increase locally compared to the 13,500 employed in Volusia-Flagler the same month a year ago was the 23rd biggest jump in construction employment in the nation, according to a new report by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The construction employment increase locally is being fueled by a surge in housing starts, new apartments, commercial development and public construction projects.

Building permits for new homes in Volusia County are up 19 percent so far this year, as of March 31, putting the county on pace for its strongest year for new home construction since 2005.

Permits for new homes in Flagler are down nearly 13 percent year-over-year through the first three months, according to the Flagler Home Builders Association.

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Buc-ee’s in Daytona, St. Augustine still on track

Although there are still some technical issues pending, the Buc-ee’s project in the World Golf Village area near St. Augustine is on the path to eventual approval.

And in Daytona Beach, construction on the store planned for the northeast corner of Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard could begin as early as this year.

The chain of jumbo-sized gas station/gift shops has a massive following around the South (mostly Texas), but the St. Johns County project has encountered quite a bit of local push back due to size and traffic concerns.

However, because of the zoning near the International Golf Parkway-I-95, Buc-ee’s doesn’t need any special approval from the St. Johns County Commission or any other board.

The property’s land use designation is Mixed Use and the zoning is Planned Unit Development within the World Commerce Center PUD, which allows for retail, commercial and industrial development, including gas stations.

The 104-pump gas station with a 52,600-square-foot store must simply follow the development rules as established by state and county codes. The representatives of Buc-ee’s are currently engaged in that process with the county and fully intend to make the project work.

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Apartment boom in progress

The influx of newcomers to Volusia and Flagler counties is not only creating a need for more new homes.

It’s also creating increased demand for apartments.

And investors and developers have taken notice.

“Daytona Beach was one of the top rent growth markets in the country last year,” observes Michael Donaldson, senior vice president of investments for the commercial real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap in Tampa.

The average rental rate for apartment units in Daytona Beach is just over $1,000 a month, a 5 percent increase compared to a year ago, according to Donaldson, who oversees his firm’s national multi-housing group.

The national average rental rate has increased 4 percent in the past year, he said.

The average occupancy rate for apartments locally has also risen to 96.4 percent, exceeding the state and national averages of 95.5 percent and 95.4 percent respectively, according to Donaldson.

“Developers are typically attracted to strong demographic trends and employment growth,” said Donaldson, noting the growth in apartment developments throughout Central Florida, especially in the bigger cities.

As the cost of building new apartment communities in Orlando and Tampa rises, “developers are migrating to secondary locations such as Daytona Beach as they can typically acquire land for much cheaper and there is less competition,” he said.

New commercial developments locally such as the One Daytona entertainment/retail/dining complex across from Daytona International Speedway and the Tanger Outlets and Tomoka Town Center malls next to the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange are also spurring the increase in apartment projects here, according to McDonald.

Apartments under construction in Volusia County include the 276-unit Tomoka Pointe apartments rising up behind Tomoka Town Center in Daytona Beach, and in New Smyrna Beach, the 264-unit Messina by the Lake apartments in the Venetian Bay community.

Those projects are just the start of a surge in new apartment developments throughout Volusia and Flagler counties.

In Daytona Beach, multifamily housing projects in the works include developer Unicorp’s plans to build 340 apartment units as part of its Tomoka Village development just north of LPGA Boulevard, between Williamson and Clyde Morris boulevards, Indigo Development’s plans for the 301-unit East LPGA Apartments complex along LPGA Boulevard, east of Clyde Morris Boulevard, developer Next Chapter’s proposed 210-unit Dunn Avenue apartments on Halifax Health-owned land next to Volusia Mall, and Prime Group’s plans to build 276 apartment units on the east side of One Daytona.

In addition, Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. recently acquired much of the downtown Daytona Beach block where the old First Baptist Church is located with plans for a mixed-use project that will include apartments.

The impetus for Consolidated-Tomoka’s project is national insurance giant Brown & Brown Inc.’s future headquarters campus two blocks away on North Beach Street.

The 11-story office building is expected to bring hundreds of white-collar professionals to downtown Daytona Beach when it opens in late 2020.

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Daytona’s Latitude Margaritaville gets OK to build more homes

Zoning unanimously approved for 2nd phase which would nearly double Daytona project to 6,650

DAYTONA BEACH — Having recently sold its 500th home in just 11 months, the developer of the Latitude Margaritaville community going up along LPGA Boulevard is now one step closer to extending it north to State Road 40.

The Daytona Beach City Commission on Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve the comprehensive plan zoning for developer Minto Communities’ planned second phase of its Jimmy Buffett-themed “55-and-better” community.

The 1,614 acres Minto has under contract to buy from landowner Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. now has city approval for up to 3,250 homes, which would double the size of the fast-growing Latitude Margaritaville community on the west side of Interstate 95.

The 1,581-acre first phase, which Minto paid $27.2 million to acquire from Consolidated-Tomoka in February 2017, is zoned to allow up to 3,400 homes.

“It’s obviously good news and shows the progress of phase one,” said John Albright, the president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka.

Noting the fast-pace of home sales at Latitude Margaritaville, which is now zoned to allow up to 6,650 homes, Albright said, “It’s probably the most successful development in the United States right now.”

As of Monday, 184 homes have now been built at the Daytona Beach community with another 130 currently under construction, said Bill Bullock, president of Minto’s Latitude Margaritaville division, which includes a similarly Jimmy Buffett-themed active-adult community being built in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Bullock said his company is stepping up new home construction activity to an average of 11 new starts a week beginning this month, up from its previous average of nine per week.

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