110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted May 5, 2014 - 2:19:58pm
The City of DeLand has created an 80-acres medical-services district around Florida Hospital DeLand, hoping to lure medical businesses and physicians to set up shop in a village-type atmosphere that will include pocket-sized residential neighborhoods.
The district stretches from a couple of blocks south of West Plymouth Avenue, north to the U.S. Highway 92 west extension, between Boundary and Adelle avenues. A small stretch of land along Lake Gertie Road to the east is also included.
There, physicians and other medical professionals will find easy development, with zoning and land use already in place. DeLand hopes this will help bring good-paying jobs to the area.
The idea of the medical-services district came about as DeLand revised its land-development regulations, Senior Planner Blanche Hardy said.
The existing plan was 20 years old, with many hodgepodge revisions. The City Commission approved starting from scratch, to create an attractive area for medical development. The coming DeLand SunRail station, expected to open in 2016 when commuter rail is extended north from DeBary, was also considered.
"We were told to ‘brand your station,’" Hardy said.
One of the SunRail stops in Orlando is at a large Florida Hospital complex. The DeLand medical-services district could be complementary, allowing professionals to commute back and forth on the rails, and others to live a walk or golf-cart drive away from DeLand facilities.
Residential development will consist of eight-to-12 clustered single-family cottages, bungalows, townhomes or similar house, that will allow small, fenced front yards, with front porches looking onto shared green space for community gardens, barbecues and picnics.
The homes are designed to appeal to young professionals working in health care or retirees who want to be near medical attention. Residents will use shared driveways and parking areas. Bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways will be included.
As for the commercial areas, old, 1960s-style buildings surrounded by acres of parking will not be allowed, Hardy said. Instead, the development rules call for attractive buildings with parking on the sides and backs, screened by vegetation, and plenty of green and courtyard areas.
Parking lots will be interconnected, to keep traffic off the main road. Traffic will be limited to 15 mph to promote walking, biking and golf-cart use.
The minimum medical-development size is 6 acres. Of that, 5 acres must be used for primary or medical-support services. The rest can be used for coffee shops, restaurants pharmacies, fitness facilities and the like. Assisted-living and nursing-care facilities will be encouraged, as well.
The district is designed with a zoning “overlay” that had to be approved by the state. With the overlay, developers won't have to go through the usual 18 to 24 months required for rezoning and comprehensive land-use changes before they can start building, Hardy said. They can just bring their plans to the city for approval.
Several sewerage lift stations and water mains already exist n the development area and can be tapped into as properties are developed,Utilities Director Jim Ailes and City Engineer Keith Riger said.
While the overlay is designed to be medical-development friendly, no variances from the specified rules will be allowed. And property owners within the area aren't bound by the rules of the overlay — they can keep their current zoning, Hardy said.
DeLand Economic Development Manager Steve Burley said the city is getting the overlay district rolling and will provide support for developing the district as envisioned.
He, Hardy and other city officials met with Florida Hospital DeLand CEO Timothy Cook, who immediately saw the benefit for the hospital, Burley said, and gave the city a letter of endorsement.
Burley, Cook and the others met with Bryant Skinner and Sheila Scarlett, who own the largest chunks of property in the district. Both were enthusiastic, Burley said.
Scarlett, who owns residential and other property in the district, said she is "thrilled." Her late husband donated the property on which DeLand’s hospital was built, and she retains the adjoining land.
Burley gave credit to Senior Planner Hardy for the “brilliant“ design.
"I don't think there's anything like this in the Southeast," he said.
He expressed confidence that the district will entice the development DeLand wants, and said he has met with Team Volusia and other development groups to put the word out.
Burley said its up to these groups to market the overlay district and its easy development process.
"There's a lot of beautiful property out there, with a lot of trees and rolling hills," he said.
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