After months of negotiations and input from the public, the DeLand City Commission signed off on a deal to take ownership of the old Volusia County Jail property in Downtown DeLand.
At their May 7 meeting, commissioners unanimously agreed to a building swap with Volusia County that could be the first step in seeing the 0.86-acre Old Jail site redeveloped.
In exchange for the jail at 130 W. New York Ave., the city will give up its former City Hall Annex at 121 W. Rich Ave., which the county currently leases for about $50,000 a year. That building now houses the environmental health and vital statistics offices of the Volusia County Department of Health.
Along with the Old Jail, the county will throw in small parking lots on the south side of West Georgia Avenue, between Cafe DaVinci and Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co., and another property on the corner of South Amelia and East New Hampshire avenues that was formerly a vehicle-inspection facility.
The Old Jail sits on prime development land, with frontage on both West New York and West Georgia avenues in the up-and-coming SoNY — South of New York — district of Downtown DeLand.
The Volusia County Council must still sign off on the deal, which will likely appear on an agenda for one of its June meetings.
“Once we officially get the property, I’ll ask the commission for a conversation on how to move forward,” City Manager Michael Pleus said.
A likely first step might be demolition, which the city estimates will cost about $170,000, including special handling for some asbestos in the 1960s building.
Although brief consideration was given to the Old Jail’s suitability as a new home for the Museum of Art – DeLand, a group of city and museum officials who toured the building in late 2016 determined the purpose-built jail would be difficult to clean up and retrofit for commercial or residential use.
Pleus said a potential idea might be to solicit development proposals for the site. A similar process was undertaken several years ago in an attempt to redevelop the former Downtown YMCA property and a parking lot next door at the corner of Woodland Boulevard and Church Street. Ultimately, however, the developer selected for that site was unable to move forward with the project.
The jail property and the lots on the south side of West Georgia Avenue are key components of a Georgia Avenue District Vision/Master Plan, developed by consulting firm CPH at city officials’ request.
That plan, developed through public input sessions in 2016 and presented to the DeLand Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency board in March, shows the area’s potential.
It envisions a variety of mixed-use buildings, walkable development, and space for artists and artisans to produce and sell their wares throughout the SoNY District.