110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 14, 2013 - 4:47:55pm
NEST co-owner Teri Peaden coined a term that's redefining the blooming district on the south side of Downtown DeLand.
New York City has SOHO — south of Houston Street. Now DeLand has SoNY, for "south of New York Avenue."
Suddenly, a lot is happening in the SoNY district, all the way south to Euclid Avenue.
One development has the old Mr. Lucky's restaurant at 413 S. Woodland Blvd. opening in April as Miller Personal Trainer Studios.
Robert "Bubba" Miller is modernizing the building to serve as a fitness and health studio.
"It's going to be something spectacular," Miller said.
His vision includes the fitness studio, a health-food take-out area, and an outdoor gym area. Across the street, Old House Cafe operates in a renovated historic home at 412 S. Woodland Blvd.
Miller said the south end of Woodland Boulevard, and the business and cultural district blossoming there, could dovetail nicely with the transportation hub being developed at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Woodland Boulevard by the City of DeLand. The Intermodal Transportation Facility is supposed to connect SunRail riders with other forms of mass transit.
Miller confided he is currently trying to buy property in the south section of Downtown DeLand, because he foresees that area could expand in a big way.
"I'm trying to accumulate property on the south side," Miller said. "I think it could be a really neat area."
The DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency recently approved a $20,000 grant to help Mark Shuttleworth continue work at 117 W. Howry Ave., two blocks south of New York Avenue, where he's creating an artists' colony of sorts.
Shuttleworth said Da Vinci Design House will have retail space, studio space and show space for artists and craftsmen. He hopes to have as many as 50 local artists involved, and to connect Da Vinci House via a pedestrian alley to Cafe da Vinci.
Cafe da Vinci connects across Georgia Avenue with Artisan Alley, where Teri and Rob Peaden's NEST is located, creating the beginnings of a cultural corridor for the SoNY district.
"It's an improvement and a repeat of what MainStreet DeLand tried to do 20 years ago with converting alleys into pedestrian walkways," Shuttleworth said.
New business and new customers are on their way, and that's good for everyone.
Custom-furniture seller Anna Bananas will soon move into the storefront at 128 S. Woodland Blvd., and city officials confirmed Panera Bread has considered a building on South Woodland Boulevard for a possible DeLand location.
Shuttleworth said the pieces are falling in place: Shoppers can walk behind Anna Banana's to check out his Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques, go next door to check for upcoming musical events at Cafe da Vinci, then walk through Artisan Alley, perhaps having lunch at Dally in the Alley, scheduling a facial or shopping for beach artwork at Renie's Retreat next door, signing up for a jewelry-making class at Florida Society of Goldsmiths' Artisan Alley workshop, then winding up at NEST to look for home decor or custom-painted furniture before continuing across the street to view Jackson Walker's massive Florida-history paintings in the Volusia County Historic Courthouse.
The connectivity is bringing businesses south of the Boulevard some of the foot traffic North Woodland Boulevard merchants have long enjoyed.
"I've noticed an influx of people," Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth bought Da Vinci Design house for $25,000 from the City of DeLand, after the city got the neglected historic structure in a foreclosure action.
He said, so far, reconstruction has cost nearly $100,000, plus the purchase price.
"It's part of a bigger effort, though," Shuttleworth said. "This is part of West Volusia's effort to be a cultural corridor."
Peaden at NEST was excited about the addition of Da Vinci House.
"This area is going to be an arts-and-culture center," Peaden said. "I think it's a really great addition."
She said Anna Bananas will bring more interior designers to the area. Peaden said Shuttleworth has worked hard to bring in filmmakers to the area, and now a consortium of filmmakers is in discussions with Conrad Realty Co. about using the historic parking garage on Artisan Alley as a soundstage.
Peaden said a new venue connected to an existing venue — which includes a networks of museums and art walks — is a good thing. And saving a piece of history for the common good is even better, as with Da Vinci House.
"It is so refreshing to see the city grant money for the restoration of that 100-year-old house, since the commission continues to allow the tear-down of other buildings in Downtown against the recommendations of the Historic Preservation Board," Peaden said.
George Bolge, CEO of the Museum of Florida Art in DeLand, is also looking forward to the development of the SoNY District.
"I hope that one of the results of this acquisition is to initiate an ‘arts neighborhood,’ which would broaden our city's appeal, thereby attracting to the Downtown more culturally minded citizens, visitors, artists and artisans," Bolge said. "This in turn would precipitate much needed revenue for Main Street businesses. The creation of this arts environment offers various creative experiences without putting a premium on the level of achievement in each instance. Artistic enterprise is a problem-solving activity, and there are many who can profit from this benefit in our community."
The culture corridor can even be seen as connecting the diverse towns of West Volusia. In DeBary, DeBary Hall Historic Site manager Amber Patterson expressed her support of the efforts to energize the south end of Downtown DeLand.
"Downtown DeLand does seem to drop off at Howry Avenue because of offerings and aesthetic. There isn't enough visibly there to communicate the average visitor to continue southward. The area south of Howry is simply not very inviting to the pedestrian," Patterson said. "Having more visibility in that particular area will improve the aesthetic and appeal. A cultural path would definitely benefit South Woodland Boulevard."
Patterson is also an artist, and is interested in space at the Da Vinci House when it opens.
Artist Anna Tomczak — who is married to Shuttleworth — said they've had a number of inquiries about the space from many types of artists and craftspeople.
"I'm planning on having my work there," Tomczak said.
The revitalization of an old property made Realtor Arnette Sherman happy.
"I am pleased to see the renovation by Mark Shuttleworth of Da Vinci Design House, and I feel it will help draw in the artistic community to the Downtown area," said Sherman, an active volunteer with the MainStreet DeLand Association. "It is an interesting project and it is exciting to see the progress being made on a rundown property."
Courtney Hamil, who with her husband, Rusty Hamil, owns Newfangled at 102 S. Woodland Blvd., has created a Facebook page for the SoNY District.
"We'd like to see this area grow and develop more," Hamil said. "We'd like it to be a destination for arts and entertainment, shopping, retail and restaurants."
She said in the past, there's been a little more focus on the north end of the Boulevard. Connecting the SoNY District, she said, will help the additional businesses grow and develop.
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