A proposed multifamily apartment project along North Spring Garden Avenue in DeLand hit a speed bump at the DeLand City Commission meeting July 18. Commissioners liked the Pointe Grand apartments, but concerns over accessibility led them to delay voting on the project’s rezoning application until next month.
The Pointe Grand apartments would be located southeast of the intersection of Clear Lake Drive and North Spring Garden Avenue, just south of The Cascades, a neighboring single-family neighborhood. The land Winter Park developer Hillpointe wants to build apartments on was originally intended to be built out as part of The Cascades. The 14.57-acre parcel would have included multifamily housing, offices and an assisted living facility.
Now, the developer is seeking the City Commission’s approval to build 204 units of apartment housing across nine three-story buildings.
The City Commission’s main reason for delaying the vote was similar to the Planning Board’s concerns last month — without elevator access on each floor of the apartment buildings, they aren’t truly accessible to DeLand’s entire population.
When the Planning Board approved the project, it was with the caveat that the developer would consider adding elevators to the apartment buildings. They thought about it, the developer’s attorney, Mark Watts of Cobb Cole, said, and it wasn’t feasible.
“It’s hard to incorporate that cost into a three-story building,” Watts said. “Without shifting to that four-story model and adding the additional density, we just have determined that it’s not a feasible change to make with the nature of the construction. It would kind of run the cost up too much.”
City Commissioner Charles Paiva, who works as a physical therapist, said he had seen too many patients for whom climbing three flights of stairs would be difficult or impossible. There was also the concern of pet-owners — the complex has a dog park, but Paiva wondered how a third-floor resident would get dogs down flights of stairs.
“… If the applicant would add elevators, then I would gleefully make a motion for approval,” Paiva said. “Outside of that, I would not be able to vote for it.”
Paiva and City Commissioner Jessica Davis expressed that they would be open to other solutions, too, like adding additional density to offset the costs of the elevators.
Asked whether the apartments would be “affordable housing,” Watts explained the intent was for the units to go for “market-rate” prices.
“… The need for more supply is the thing that will help bring those costs back down for the majority of the people in our community,” Watts said. “We’re hoping by adding additional supply to the market, it helps with that affordability, again, without being a tax credit or going through an affordability program with the state.”
Rather than vote on the rezoning application’s first reading, the City Commission unanimously agreed to continue the discussion. The Pointe Grand apartments’ rezoning application is expected to return at the City Commission’s Aug. 15 meeting.
Watts said he and city staff would work to resolve the City Commission’s concerns, including the lack of elevators and an increased buffer between The Cascades and the Pointe Grand complex.
The DeLand City Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month, in the City Commission Chambers in DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave. All City Commission meetings are open to the public and broadcast live on the city’s website, HERE.