A project to transform the Old Volusia County Jail in Downtown DeLand into a multiuse campus has been moving slowly, but officials expect a detailed plan for the project to be heard before several DeLand city panels early next year.
The proposal, backed by DeLand manufacturer Deltran Operations Inc., would see the Old Jail at 130 W. New York Ave. demolished.
In its place, a three-story, 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot commercial building would be built along West New York Avenue, while an 8,500-square-foot two-story building fronting West Georgia Avenue would also be constructed.
The two buildings on the Old Jail site would be connected by GlassHouse Alley, a privately owned but generally open-to-the-public walkway, which would have parklike features between the two buildings.
The company would also have a five-year option to purchase a small lot on the south side of West Georgia Avenue, currently used as public parking, to develop a building of up to three stories. If the company exercises the option, they would have to replace all the parking spaces lost with new spaces within 250 feet of the lot.
The process for approving the GlassHouse Square project has stretched back to fall 2018, when the city solicited ideas on what to do with the Old Jail.
GlassHouse Square was ranked the City Commission’s top choice in December 2018, and a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the general details of the project was approved in May 2019. The DeLand City Commission and Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency approved a development agreement for the project this summer.
Since that time, Deltran officials have been developing a planned-development agreement, which will spell out in detail the exact contours of the project, including details such as exactly which uses — residential, commercial or otherwise — can be placed in each part of the site.
DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said the process has been delayed somewhat because the city experienced a lag in getting a boundary survey done on the parcel, something the preliminary agreement between Deltran and the city required the city to do at its expense.
The city is also required to conduct a geotechnical survey at its expense, which will take place sometime in the next few weeks, according to Community Development Director Rick Werbiskis.
While the “acquisition and redevelopment agreement” ratified in July specified several deadlines for construction plans to be submitted for the project — namely, 18 months after the agreement was ratified, or six months after a planned-development (or PD) agreement for the site is approved by the city (whichever comes later) — Pleus said GlassHouse is still well within the specified deadlines.
The agreement required GlassHouse to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to get permit applications for the first phase approved within 24 months of the contract’s effective date, to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to begin construction 12 months after approval of the PD agreement, and to wrap up construction of the first phase of the project 24 months after starting.
— Building 1 can be up to three stories tall, with a rooftop event space. Each floor can contain up to 10,000 square feet of office/commercial space, though no more than 30 percent of the first-floor space can be offices. The building could also include an up-to-1,500-square-foot gallery/event space, subject to a reduction in office/commercial space of the same amount. The rooftop event space can be up to 10,000 square feet.
— Building 2 can be up to two stories tall. The ground floor can be up to 2,800 square feet of office and commercial space — again, no more than 30-percent office. The second floor would feature up to 3,800 square feet of office/commercial space, an event/gallery space, and/or up to five “Artists’ Lofts,” to be further defined later.
— A “gathering space” and “pedestrian walkway” and private parking lot for GlassHouse’s tenants will also be constructed as part of the project’s first phase.
— GlassHouse would be allowed to vary the order of development — for instance, build the second building first, or build both at the same time — as long as such development is done with the least disruption possible to the public parking lot on the south side of West Georgia Avenue.
— Source: Acquisition and Redevelopment Agreement, agreed to in July.
“It takes a while,” Pleus said. “You’ve got to remember that the development agreement took like a year [to negotiate], and PD agreements are more detailed.”
Michael Prelec Jr., executive vice president of Deltran Operations Inc., said last month that his company was not prepared to comment on the project until the PD agreement was finalized.
“We are not ready to provide an official statement as of yet as we are still in the process of drafting our PD application,” he said.
Prelec said he expected to be ready to make a public statement on the project around the third week of December.
Once the PD agreement is approved — which will require approvals from the city’s Technical Review Committee, Planning Board, and ultimately, the DeLand City Commission — and once Deltran shows the city that it has the financial capacity to pursue the project — the city will pay up to $300,000 to demolish the asbestos-riddled former correctional facility.
If the cost exceeds that amount, GlassHouse has the option of either paying the excess cost, or terminating its agreement.
The city shall convey the Old Jail property to GlassHouse 90 days after the jailhouse has been demolished and cleared from the property, per the July agreement.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Deltran had intended on moving its headquarters from its current International Speedway Boulevard location to Building 1 of the new project, for which it would receive tax credits.
In July, however, Prelec said that as in many companies, some Deltran employees have been working from home.
In exchange for moving at least 30 full-time equivalent employees making an average annual salary of at least $67,142 to Downtown DeLand, Deltran would get a 100-percent break on ad valorem property taxes owed to the city and CRA.
The credit would be granted each year for 10 years, but would apply only to the portion of the property occupied by Deltran’s headquarters.