Menu

Daytona’s First Baptist Church being toppled

The downtown Daytona Beach First Baptist Church is starting to come down. Demolition was in high gear Friday as the site is prepared to become the future home of apartments, a grocery store, restaurants and retail.

DAYTONA BEACH — First Baptist Church is starting to look like a war zone casualty that’s been mercilessly shelled.

On the west side of the building that faces Ridgewood Avenue, the exterior walls have been ripped out by a huge excavator with a powerful grapple. On the ground below, mounds of rubble wait to be hauled off.

Inside the cavernous sanctuary, rows and rows of pews that have held the faithful for decades have been stripped out, and the mighty pipe organ has been dismantled and reduced to a pile of parts. Interior supports and walls are toppling, and the front doors facing Palmetto Avenue have been torn out.

Within a few weeks, the iconic downtown Daytona house of worship with a lofty bell tower will become a mountain of disjointed debris. And in a few months, the block between Ridgewood and Palmetto avenues will be cleared off and ready to become something other than the site of a church for the first time in 122 years.

“We’re anxious to see something get going,” said Scott Bullock, vice president of real estate for Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., which has bought out most of the block dominated by the now empty First Baptist buildings.

The church buildings have been vacant since the congregation relocated in October to a new campus on Tomoka Farms Road.

Construction could start at the end of the year on a new high-density development on the block bordered by Ridgewood Avenue, International Speedway Boulevard, Palmetto Avenue and Bay Street.

Conceptual plans have shown a five-story luxury apartment building with 300 units on the corner of Bay Street and Palmetto Avenue. A multi-story parking garage, which could have at least 400 parking spaces, could stand at Ridgewood Avenue and Bay Street.

The design shows the garage and apartment building connected by a covered pedestrian overpass and street-level retail shops in both buildings.

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

Consolidated is not buying the Popeye’s site, but the company is under contract to purchase the Beck’s office building, Bullock said this week. The Beck’s building will come down if the sale closes, he said.

Click here to view the full article

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.

Click here to view the full article

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.

Click here to view the full article

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.

Click here to view the full article

Brown & Brown begins work on future Daytona HQ

DAYTONA BEACH — Just over a year after Brown & Brown Inc. announced plans to build a new headquarters on North Beach Street, site work has finally begun on the office tower.

“Everything is going according to game plan,” said Chairman J. Hyatt Brown in a phone interview.

And the headquarters now is going to be bigger than first envisioned.

New site plans filed with the city for the project now indicate the tower will be 11 stories, up from the originally proposed 10, and as much as 225,000 square feet in size.

“Call it 10 1/2 floors,” said David Lotz, chief corporate counsel for Brown & Brown. “We want some sort of rooftop amenity like a deck or outdoor space as well as some sort of inside space.”

The decision to add the extra floor was made to take full advantage of the spectacular views from the top of the building which the company verified through the use of an aerial drone.

“You’ll be able to see the river as well as the ocean,” Lotz said.

Brown in a phone interview acknowledged it took longer than expected to start construction because of delays in obtaining the necessary permits.

That process included a voluntary environmental cleanup of the former car dealership sites, which was deemed to be essentially completed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in a letter issued in July.

Lotz said the development site had some soil problems and is requiring extra fill dirt to be trucked in.

Plans for the corporate campus also call for the planting of more than 200 trees and extensive landscaping, as well as storm water retention ponds and other features designed to lessen the potential for flooding, not only of the company’s property, but also the surrounding area, Lotz confirmed.

The office tower will be built in the southeast section of the campus, with room for a potential second tower to be added immediately north of it.

The west portion of the campus will primarily be used for surface parking, which will be broken up with “islands” of landscaping and trees, Lotz said.

“We’re building a campus for our teammates. We don’t want a nice building and a vapid parking lot,” he said. “We want a nice campus for the city.”

The planned office tower is seen by local observers as a key to revitalizing the city’s historic downtown business district.

The new headquarters is expected to bring at least 625 white-collar workers to the area in addition to the more than 300 already employed at the national insurance agency’s current leased headquarters offices at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave.

The new jobs are expected to pay an average of at least $41,300 a year, well above the current average annual wage for workers in Volusia County.

Brown said the anticipated move-in date for the new headquarters will be Oct. 1, 2020.

To view the full article click here