110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted May 27, 2014 - 10:40:04am
The Deltona City Commission is paving the way for an investor who hopes to develop virgin land on the city's north side with commercial ventures.
As a first step, the City Commission dissolved three old subdivisions once planned for the property. The subdivision plats, recorded in Volusia County during the mid-1920s Florida land boom, are for approximately 140 acres on the east side of the interchange of Interstate 4 and State Road 472/Howland Boulevard.
The land is in the Deltona Activity Center. The 900-acre Activity Center is supposed to be a showcase of economic development that could provide high-paying employment for Deltonans now working in Orlando or elsewhere.
Although lots in each of the planned subdivisions were sold, no homes were ever built, and no streets or other infrastructure were developed. The owner of the properties, Bobby Luthra, wants to consolidate the old subdivisions and replat the land for upscale development.
"It's primarily going to be commercial development," said Bill Barfield, who represented Luthra at the May 19 Deltona City Commission meeting. "We're seeking for health-care-type of use, office type of use. There'll be some restaurants. There would be an office park."
Barfield declined to comment on reports and rumors about Halifax Health's interest in purchasing land in the neighborhood. Halifax Health has floated the idea of building a hospital on property it intends to purchase north of Howland Boulevard, east of I-4.
Neighbors who attended the meeting were relieved when Barfield said no big-box or megastores were envisioned for the property.
"I just want something good for the city; I don't want another Walmart, and I don't want a Dollar Tree," said Ray Baez, whose home is on nearby Tealwood Terrace.
"We're concerned about what the future is. What are they going to do when they develop?" asked Kris Beatty, who lives adjacent to the vacant acreage. "We're not opposed to development. No big boxes here or fast-food restaurants."
Development may in fact be a good thing, Beatty acknowledged, because the wooded areas now provide cover for people, especially youths, who come there for wild parties or to break into homes and cars nearby.
Beatty said the Florida Forestry Service plowed a firebreak on the land in 2013, while battling a brush fire on the wooded tract. He said homes were broken into on the north side of Arbor Ridge by thieves who used the firebreak as a path into the neighborhood.
"Opening the area up for development may end this outlaw-type activity," Deltona Senior Planning Manager Ron Paradise said.
The Deltona Activity Center is part of the old Southwest Activity Center planned by Volusia County officials more than 20 years ago. The entire Southwest Activity Center covered some 1,800 acres on both sides of I-4 at the interchange with S.R. 472, but it has never developed as the county envisioned.
Professional planners designed the Southwest Activity Center after the concept of Heathrow in Seminole County. Heathrow is well-known for its corporate offices, office parks, hotels, shopping centers and posh homes.
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