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Buc-ee’s co-founder: Daytona construction could start this summer

Buc-ee’s is coming to Daytona Beach, and motorists should be able to start filling up at mega-sized gas station/convenience store planned next to the Interstate 95/LPGA Boulevard interchange sometime next year.

So says the Texas-based chain’s co-founder and partial namesake Arch “Beaver” Aplin.

“Our goal is to start construction definitely in 2018 and if we get lucky by the summer of 2018,” he said in a recent phone interview.

“It takes us about a year from start to finish to open — 10 months to build and about six weeks to stock (the store) and train staff.”

Aplin spoke to The News-Journal shortly after the city’s planning board unanimously approved rezoning the 35 acres on the northeast corner of the I-95/LPGA Boulevard interchange, an important first step towards giving his company the green light to start building the 120-pump gas station and 53,300-square-foot “travel convenience center,” which will be bigger than most Publix grocery stores.

“We’re excited about it,” said Aplin, whose company is also planning a location in St. Johns County, also along I-95, near World Golf Village, as well as one in Fort Myers.

While Daytona Beach was the first planned location outside of Texas to be announced last April, Aplin said the first to actually open most likely will be either the one in St. Johns or here, depending on which will receive approval first to begin construction.

The planned Daytona Beach location will employ approximately 200 workers, he said, adding that his company expects to spend $15-20 million to build the gas station/travel center, which will take up 14 acres of the site, just west of the Stonewood Grill restaurant on LPGA Boulevard.

The site includes five outparcels where standalone buildings for other businesses could be built. Buc-ee’s will have a single interstate sign that will be 85 feet high and will bear the chain’s cartoon beaver mascot image above the word “Daytona.”

Buc-ee’s considers its locations to be destination draws where motorists will go out of their way to visit. It even has billboards along interstates with messages such as “Only 262 miles to Buc-ee’s. You can hold it.”

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DSW shoes, Culver’s to join Dave & Busters at Daytona’s Tomoka Town Center

DAYTONA BEACH — As its fall targeted completion date draws closer, the “power lifestyle” retail center going up across the street from Tanger Outlets mall continues to add tenants.

The latest to sign on include DSW Inc. (also known as Designer Shoe Warehouse), a “best in class shoe operator,” and two eateries: Culver’s and Arby’s, said developer Jeff Preston, vice president of North American Development Group.

“We’re looking at an October-November opening for many of our tenants,” he added,

The planned 400,000-square-foot power lifestyle center is part of the 235-acre Tomoka Town Center development area on the east side of Interstate that includes Tanger Outlets, as well as a planned Sam’s Club store and a recently announced 276-unit luxury apartment community called Tomoka Pointe, which is set to break ground in late March.

Tomoka Town Center stretches from LPGA Boulevard on the north to Mason Avenue on the south and is bordered on the east side by Williamson Boulevard.

The 39-acre, 350,000-square-foot Tanger Outlets mall, which opened in November 2016, became the first development to be completed in the town center area, which does not include the Cornerstone Office Park on the southwest corner of Williamson and LPGA boulevards.

While Tanger offers more than 70 stores, including several national retail chains that opened their first-ever Volusia-Flagler area locations there, it only has a handful of eateries.

The initial phase of North American’s planned power lifestyle center will add several big box retail stores and restaurants to Tomoka Town Center.

Other tenants announced to date for the power lifestyle center include Dave & Buster’s, Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Burlington Stores, TJMaxx, Ulta Beauty, Tuesday Morning and Five Below.

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Officials: Daytona Hard Rock on track for February opening

DAYTONA BEACH — The World’s Most Famous Beach could be jumping to the sounds of the long-awaited Hard Rock Hotel as soon as this coming Valentine’s Day.

That is the tentative target opening date for the new oceanfront resort under construction on the site of the former Desert Inn at 918 N. Atlantic Ave.

While the exterior still looks unfinished to passersby along S.R. A1A, hotel officials who recently met with The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Editorial Board, said the inside of the planned 200-room hotel is “very close” to being finished.

The hotel has already begun accepting reservations on its website, although March 1 is the first day rooms are currently available for booking.

“We can’t share a specific opening date right now … but it could be as early as Feb. 14,” said Kevin Hines, the hotel’s general manager. He added that the opening will definitely be in “early 2018.”

‘ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC’

Hines and Susan Keaveney, the hotel’s director of marketing, said the rock music-themed hotel, when it finally opens, will be unlike anything the Daytona Beach area has ever seen.

“It’s spectacular. It is going to be a four-diamond hotel,” said Keaveney, formerly director of marketing for The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, the area’s only AAA Auto Club’s four-diamond-rated hotel.

In keeping with the Hard Rock’s other locations, the Daytona Beach hotel, which will be just the 25th internationally and fourth in Florida, will be chock full of luxury amenities, all with a twist that incorporates music, both in its decor as well as in its offering of live music several days a week throughout the year.

“The brand is all about music,” said Keaveney, who along with Hines, wore a guitar-shaped pin bearing the words “Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.” Hard Rock pins are collectible items only available for purchase on-site at the hotels.

“People travel all over the world just to get a pin — it’s not available online,” Hines said.

The hotel will also have displays of rock music memorabilia, some possibly with a local connection, said Hines and Keaveney.

“It will literally be an on-site music museum,” Hines said. “That’s one of the draws of the Hard Rock.”

When asked if the memorabila could be related to the Allman Brothers, the legendary Southern rock band whose founding leaders were from Daytona Beach, or other Florida rockers such as Lynrd Skynrd or Tom Petty, Hines said, “We like to keep it as a surprise (but) they would seem like obvious choices.”

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