The future of a chunk of land in northwest Deltona is gradually coming into focus.
We are learning more about plans by investors to transform a piece of Florida wilderness into an industrial park teeming with heavy trucks, 2 million square feet of buildings — and workers from near and far.
The proposal was set to get its first vote at a meeting of the Deltona Planning and Zoning Board at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at Deltona City Hall. It would also require two positive votes by the Deltona City Commission.
From official documents now available, it appears the project will be bigger than the Amazon complex across the road.
In the coming weeks, Deltona’s leaders will decide how the 129 wooded acres on the east side of North Normandy Boulevard will be developed.
The proposed blueprint appears in a report prepared by the city’s professional planners.
While the occupant of all this commercial and industrial space has not been identified, the document has been released in advance of the Planning and Zoning Board meeting.
Details about the grand plan for Portland Industrial Park are slowly emerging.
Here is what we now know:
Rezoning to IPUD needed
Approval of the proposed industrial park will come as a rezoning. Although the tract is already zoned Industrial, designating the property as an industrial planned-unit development (IPUD) will enable the developer to do things not normally permitted under Deltona’s building and zoning ordinances. For example, city laws prohibit buildings taller than 35 feet, but an IPUD could waive some of those standard development regulations.
End user unknown
While we do not know the identities of the corporations poised to come to Deltona, the applicant for the rezoning is Kimley-Horn and Associates, a large engineering firm with offices in many states.
Kimley-Horn is representing the owner of the land, listed in official records as D.O.T. Properties NV. The Florida Division of Corporations website lists a foreign profit corporation by that name with members who hail from the Bahamas, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with a mailing address at a Miami law firm.
“We’ve talked with people from England, from Australia. They’re international,” Deltona Development Services Director Ron Paradise said.
Paradise told The Beacon he does not know who the end users of the site will be.
Now, less than a year after Amazon opened its Deltona facility, the Portland Industrial Park is ready to expand the city’s industrial complex on a grand scale.
A conceptual site plan calls for a 1 million-square-foot “high-cube fulfillment center warehouse,” a 500,000-square-foot industrial warehouse space, and a 500,000-square-foot industrial park. The conceptual plan appears in the traffic study prepared by Kimley-Horn.
Significantly, too, the traffic study’s cover notes it was prepared for Seefried Properties, the Atlanta firm that built the Amazon complex.
“There is anticipation the industrial/warehouse areas of the property will be occupied by large, high volume, logistics-oriented uses,” reads the Deltona planning staff’s report. “The large logistic facilities will feature numerous cargo bays and ample drive aisles needed to accommodate incoming and outgoing delivery utilizing a range of vehicle classes, including heavy trucks.”
Besides the industrial and warehouse buildings envisioned, there are six outparcels for retail-commercial uses, including restaurants, and office and “flex” space.
If approved by the Deltona City Commission, the expanded Portland Industrial Park will be a major employment center for Deltona and the surrounding area.
The advent of such intensive development will bring more traffic onto North Normandy Boulevard.
“The project is proposed to generate 5,407 total trips per day. 848 of the 5,407 trips will consist of heavy cargo trucks — 18-wheelers,” the staff report notes.
To accommodate the heavier traffic volume, planners say North Normandy Boulevard must be widened from two to four lanes, at least the segment between Energy Avenue and the location of the new facilities.
To compensate for the improvements on North Normandy Boulevard, the planning staff report notes the developer must pay $889,344 as the project’s “proportional share” of the estimated $4 million cost of the four-laning.
For the good of the residential areas a short distance away, the heavy trucks coming to and leaving Portland Industrial Park will not be allowed to go south on Normandy Boulevard to access I-4 from Saxon Boulevard.
As with trucks coming to and from Amazon, their drivers would be required to go north and turn to the Howland Boulevard/S.R. 472 interchange.
“To aid in the enforcement of heavy truck movement, the Developer will be responsible for the installation of an Opticon monitoring and license plate reader device at the intersection of Driveway Three (3) and North Normandy Boulevard,” reads the planning staff’s report. “The Opticon And license plate reader shall be installed before the First Certificate of Occupancy is issued.”
City leaders must vote
The Planning and Zoning Board will consider the request for rezoning the 129-acre parcel from Industrial to Industrial Planned-Unit Development at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd. The meeting is open to the public.
The board may vote to recommend the City Commission approve or reject the required zoning change.
If the property is to be rezoned, the City Commission must pass an ordinance with a majority affirmative vote on two readings. A public hearing will precede each vote on the rezoning ordinance, and anyone favoring or opposing the measure may address the commission. The City Commission meetings are also open to the public.
Decades of planning
The undeveloped property is now zoned Industrial. The zoning goes back to the days of the old, now-defunct Southwest Activity Center.
The Southwest Activity Center was a joint planning venture of Volusia County and the cities of DeLand and Deltona, intended to create a Heathrow-like economic-development showcase at and around the interchange of Interstate 4 and State Road 472.
Proposed in conjunction with the county’s state-mandated growth-management plan, the Southwest Activity Center was to be an attractive place, some 1,800 acres — about three square miles — of corporate offices, office parks, light-industrial plants, high-technology research and development, along with hotels and upscale retail centers and restaurants.
Through the 1990s and going into the 2000s, despite intensive planning, no development occurred within the special zone, and the Southwest Activity Center was ultimately dissolved.
The Southwest Activity Center was a development of regional impact. A DRI is a project so massive that its effects — employment opportunities, the cost of labor and building materials, transportation, the environment, public safety, etc. — extend over a wide area. In 2010, the DRI expired, and Deltona began charting its own course for the approximately 900 acres of the old Southwest Activity Center property on the east side of I-4.
The Epic Theatre multiplex was the first actual development within the Deltona Activity Center, opened in 2011, followed by the construction of a Duke Energy substation across North Normandy.
Other development followed, including a RaceTrac convenience store/gas station, a Burger King, McDonald’s, Wawa, and not least, the Halifax Health hospital and medical office building.
The climax came in late 2019, when Amazon announced it would build a 1.4 million-square-foot fulfillment center on 85 acres. Amazon’s coming to Deltona followed months of secrecy and speculation.
The land on which Amazon sits was and is a part of Portland Industrial Park, which includes the 129 acres across North Normandy Boulevard now in play.
Construction of the huge Amazon warehouse and trucking complex began early in 2020, and was completed in the late summer of last year. The company hired some 500 people to work in the huge facility, which sees more than 300 heavy trucks arriving and departing each day.