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PHOTO COURTESY COBB COLE A map of the area once designated the Southwest Activity Center. The area in gray resides within the City of DeLand, while the orange area is a part of Orange City and the purple area is a part of Deltona.

Commercial and industrial development may also be built

Rezoning for a “high-end luxury” apartment community near DeLand’s I-4 exit on State Road 472 received a recommendation from the DeLand Planning Board May 18. That community is just one part of the proposed plans for big development near DeLand’s southern limits.

CTC DeLand, or Christopher Thomas Communities DeLand, would be 238 units of “cottage-style multi-family rental apartments,” as DeLand attorney Mark Watts of Cobb Cole, representing developer Taylor Morrison, described it. The 29-acre project will be part of plans to develop the Southwest Activity Center, a large plot of land on the outskirts of DeLand that has been the subject of ambitious potential development plans since the 1990s.

Each of CTC DeLand’s units will be a single-story private home, but the dwellings will be rented out like apartments. Amenities planned for the development include a dog park, a butterfly garden and a clubhouse.

The units in the “build to rent” community will be designed from the ground up with renters in mind.

The target renters for CTC DeLand, Watts said, are not necessarily people looking to rent their first apartment, or people looking for affordable housing, but renters-by-choice who are downsizing or not interested in owning property.

When the project was first seen by the Planning Board, not seeking an approval but for guidance, Planning Board Chair Virginia Comella complained that the development was catering to out-of-staters moving south to Florida.

“Our poor people who work here and provide the services we need can’t afford to live anywhere here, and that really, really bothers me,” Comella said of the development, then named Stonekirk, in February.

When the Planning Board saw the plans on May 18, Comella had warmed up to the idea a bit, saying that the project “had merit,” and, “it’s a concept we might be wanting to look at for the non-luxury market.”

The project was unanimously OK’d by the Planning Board, as was the rezoning application to a PUD, or planned unit development. CTC DeLand’s rezoning application will be sent along to the DeLand City Commission with the Planning Board’s comments, including codifying low-impact development requirements in the agreement between the city and the developer.

PHOTO COURTESY COBB COLE
EARLY PLANS — These early plans show what CTC DeLand, a 238-unit residential development near DeLand’s I-4 exit on State Road 472 may look like. The development would include 238 cottage-style rental units.

30 years in the making?

In 1990, DeLand, Orange City, Deltona and Volusia County devised a plan to turn nearly 2,000 acres worth of land near the interchange of I-4 and State Road 472 into a showcase of economic strength. The Southwest Activity Center was designated a development of regional impact, or DRI, and each of the players made lofty plans to build their portion up.

Fast-forward to 2022. That lofty dream of a collaborative business venture is dead, and all of the DRI’s partners have gone their separate ways. Plans expired in 2009, and, so far, the only partner to do much with its parcel is Deltona — the Halifax Health | UF Health – Medical Center of Deltona and Epic Theatres of West Volusia both inhabit a chunk of the bygone DRI.

Three decades after initial plans to develop the parcel, the DeLand Planning Board got a look at plans for DeLand’s piece of the former activity center — CTC DeLand, and DeLand Tech Park, a commercial and industrial development across three parcels totaling 143 acres.

The first piece of DeLand Tech Park, 120.6 acres, would include 1.39 million square feet of industrial space. The second and third parcels, totaling 22.2 acres, would include 205,000 square feet of commercial space.

DeLand Tech Park is in its early stages, but a goal of the project, attorney Mark Watts, representing the developer, said, is to be flexible and allow for many different uses.

While the DeLand Planning Board got a peek at the project, city staff requested the board delay voting on rezoning to give the city’s Technical Review Committee more time to look at it.

The Planning Board unanimously voted to table the project to the board’s June meeting, save Member Buz Nesbit, who recused himself due to connections to one of the project’s parties.

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