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

Proposed “Project Delta” Could Transform Downtown Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Big changes could soon be on the way in Downtown Daytona Beach because of “Project Delta.”

Project Delta is the brain child of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., which owns a nearly 6-acre lot at the intersection of Palmetto Avenue and International Speedway Boulevard.

The company wants to fill that land with a 300-unit apartment complex, a grocery store, shops, and parking.

“We kind of sat down with city management and staff and said, ‘What is needed in downtown Daytona?’ The first thing they said was residents, and second was a grocery store,” said Scott Bullock, the Vice President of Real Estate with Consolidated-Tomoka.

In order for that project to become a reality, the land first has to be rezoned. Right now, a church that plans to move at the end of the year takes up the majority of that property.

In a beginning step, the law firm Cobb Cole presented the plans to the Downtown Development Board on Tuesday. If built, the project could generate money for the area, especially in taxes, since the church is exempt from taxes.

Click here to view the full article and video

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

Brown & Brown HQ construction to begin soon in downtown Daytona Beach

Construction is slated to begin this fall on Brown & Brown’s new headquarters building on the riverfront in downtown Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH — The empty 10-acre lot on North Beach Street covered in tall weeds, trash and piles of broken up concrete is about to undergo a metamorphosis.

In about two months, the rubble will be cleared away and the site will start to transform into the new headquarters of Brown & Brown Inc., a homegrown business that has become one of the world’s largest insurance brokers.

Utility work will extend through the fall, and foundation construction that will include pilings could begin by the end of the year. Then throughout 2019 a new 10-story building will take shape just south of the Main Street bridge.

“In the first half of 2019 you will see the shell of a building,” said David Lotz, Brown & Brown’s chief corporate counsel. “We’re excited to be where we are. From the outside it seems like it’s taking a long time, but we’ve moved along at a good clip.”

When the project was publicly announced 10 months ago at a gala event attended by dozens of local leaders, there was “no true design” for the building yet, Lotz said. Now Jacksonville architect RS&H has the towering structure’s design 95 percent complete and attention is turning to hiring a general contractor. An updated rendering will be provided later this year, he said.

The goal remains to open the 200,000-square-foot building that will overlook the Halifax River by the end of 2020. Around 650 to 700 employees will work there to start, and that number could swell in the future if the vision to one day add a second building on the property comes together. The north end of the site is planned as a parking lot but eventually could become the spot for a second building, Lotz said.

The company will continue to house another 350-plus employees at the 75,000-square-foot office tower it leases at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave. That will expand the insurance company’s local workforce to more than 1,000, some of whom will transfer from Brown & Brown offices in other states.

For many locals, and particularly Beach Street business owners, the new office tower is hoped to be a savior for the long-struggling downtown riverfront.

Click here to view the full story