We hope you're enjoying our site. You've read one of your seven free stories for the month. Log in for open access.

<p></p><p></p>

A company specializing in manufacturing battery-charging devices will get first dibs at a chance to redevelop the Old Volusia County Jail site in Downtown DeLand.

Deltran Operations USA Inc. of DeLand was one of three companies to bid for a chance to transform the long-disused facility into something new that could add more vibrancy — and residents — to the district.

A committee of DeLand city staff reviewed the Deltran proposal, along with submissions from Conrad Realty Co., also of DeLand, and E2L Real Estate Solutions LLC of Winter Park. The committee gave Deltran’s plans for the 0.86-acre jail site and two West Georgia Avenue parking lots the highest marks.

The selection committee consisted of Mayor Bob Apgar, Assistant City Manager Mike Grebosz, Public Services Director Keith Riger, Finance Director Dan Stauffer, Economic Development Manager Steve Burley and Community Development Director Rick Werbiskis.

City commissioners and members of DeLand’s Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency voted nearly unanimously to go along with the committee’s recommendation at back-to-back Dec. 17 meetings.

The Downtown CRA board is made up of the five city commissioners, plus Downtown business owners Bill Budzinski (of The Elusive Grape) and Joe Valente (of Boston Coffeehouse and the Downtown Executive Center).

The lone dissenting vote on both boards was Commissioner Jessica Davis.

Now, city staff will sit down with Deltran officials and try to hash out specifics — including how much money taxpayers will contribute toward the project — in a development contract with the company.

Before the vote, Werbiskis outlined the three proposals under consideration, and explained why the committee ranked Detran’s proposal, dubbed GlassHouse Square, highest.

“It was the clearest in terms of alignment with our Georgia Avenue master plan,” Werbiskis said.

The committee gave Deltran’s proposal 90 out of 100 possible points, compared to Conrad Realty’s 75 and E2L’s 65 points.

Conrad Realty’s proposal centered around a concept dubbed Courthouse Marketplace, taking inspiration from urban markets like Orlando’s East End Market. It would include 26-30 spaces for small and very small businesses. It would also include event space, possible new residential/office space, and other amenities.

Werbiskis said Conrad’s was the “greenest” of the three proposals, incorporating a solar-panel array and a water-saving cistern-and-pump system, and reusing most of the Old Jail building, rather than demolishing it.

E2L’s proposal, on the other hand, took a much more holistic approach, with drawings included with the proposal showing buildings stretching all the way west to South Florida Avenue. Improvements would also be made on the current DeLand City Hall and Fire Station No. 81 site, including a city playground and a park around the retention pond on the site.

The E2L proposal included several mixed-use buildings, a parking garage, and event space.

Deltran’s $11.1 million proposal centers around the relocation of Deltran’s headquarters, currently on U.S. Highway 92 near the DeLand Municipal Airport, to a 10,000-square-foot space within a 30,000-square-foot mixed-use building on the Old Jail site, fronting West Georgia Avenue.

The building would also feature 10,000 square feet of retail/commercial space, a rooftop event space, and a 10,000-square-foot business incubator dubbed The Innovation Center, which would provide space for startup businesses in the software, technology and product-design fields.

Additionally, the first phase of Deltran’s project would include another 8,100-square-foot building on the south side of Georgia Avenue, in a former county parking lot DeLand acquired as part of the Old Jail land-swap deal.

The smaller building would contain retail space, along with artists’ lofts and a 1,500-square-foot gallery space, along with another rooftop event/exhibition space.

A second phase of the project would see a five-story, 50,000-square-foot mixed-use building constructed on the northern end of the Old Jail site, fronting West New York Avenue.

That building would contain another 10,000 square feet of retail/commercial space, along with 46 residential units.

The phased aspect of the project was a plus for the city, Werbiskis said, as it adds flexibility.

“It adds to the flexibility in the way the city can integrate its participation with their program,” Werbiskis said.

The project, however, could require a large amount of government participation — potentially totaling millions of dollars.

“They were the most aggressive, so to speak, in terms of what they were asking for … but they did note that that is open for discussion,” Werbiskis said.

Among other things, Deltran is asking for the city to foot the bill to demolish the building and do asbestos abatement, and possibly participate in constructing and maintaining a “festival street” on the property, along with a possible splash pad.

The other two companies’ proposals also asked the city to participate in demolition and hazardous-materials mitigation.

Deltran also asked the city to reduce or waive $34,705 in city impact fees, and asked for the waiving of $432,107 in Volusia County impact fees. Such fees are paid by all developers of new construction, and go toward offsetting development’s impact on roads, schools and other public services.

Deltran also wants the city and Volusia County to fully waive ad valorem property taxes for 10 years on much of the property, with taxes being phased back in in an “escalated, gradual basis” in years 11 through 20. The project would generate some $123,629 in annual tax revenue at build-out, Deltran estimated.

Neither of the other two proposals requested such an exemption.

Some city commissioners, including Chris Cloudman, were concerned about the possible financial impact on taxpayers.

“For me, ultimately, I don’t want to commit a lot of city funds, that would cause us to either have to keep the millage rate where it is, or higher in the future,” Cloudman said.

Vice Mayor Charles Paiva echoed many of Cloudman’s concerns.

Ultimately, however, both voted to accept the committee’s recommendation of Deltran’s proposal, but voiced a hope that negotiations would reduce the amount of financial involvement the city would have in the project.

“Ultimately, if those [negotiations] did not go through, I would not have any concern with giving Conrad Realty that opportunity,” Paiva said. “I just think I felt like that we needed something a little more transformative … but however, if someone can do it, it would be Conrad Realty.”

Conrad Realty Co. is the owner and developer of the property just to the east of the Old Jail, including Artisan Alley. The president of Conrad Realty Co., Barb Shepherd, is also publisher of The Beacon.

Several commissioners voiced a hope that if Deltran ultimately goes ahead with redeveloping the Old Jail and its environs, the company would somehow involve Conrad Realty.

“This property is attractive because of the organic growth that has occurred, and I think it would be wise to engage Conrad Realty to extend that feel and growth,” Cloudman said.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here