pointe grand apartments
POINTE GRANDE — Pictured is the concept plan for the Pointe Grande apartments planned for Northwest DeLand.

An apartment project proposed along North Spring Garden Avenue in DeLand was denied by the City Commission Aug. 15.

Aug. 15 marked the second first hearing for Pointe Grand, an apartment project that would have seen the construction of 204 apartment units across nine three-story buildings. Pointe Grand was delayed in July over accessibility concerns. The project was planned to neighbor The Cascades, a neighborhood on North Spring Garden Avenue between West Plymouth Avenue and International Speedway Boulevard.

When Pointe Grand was heard by the DeLand City Commission in July, accessibility was the board’s main concern, specifically that each building, as proposed, would not have full elevator access. In the city’s building code, elevators are not required to be built in apartment buildings shorter than four stories tall.

The approximately 15-acre parcel that developer Hillpointe is eyeing to rezone for Pointe Grand is currently zoned for a maximum of around 170 units, and City Commissioner Charles Paiva argued that allowing the developer to build 30 more units meant the city should get something in return, like elevators in the buildings.

“We need apartments, but we also need the amenities or designs, much like an elevator, to allow the greatest amount of people to utilize those,” Paiva said in July. “Not everyone can be on the first floor.”

Returning to the City Commission Aug. 15, Hillpointe’s attorney, Mark Watts of Cobb Cole, explained why elevators were not added to the project.

“To redesign it to accommodate an elevator shaft means you are basically redesigning those buildings from scratch,” Watts said.

Adding elevators to the buildings, he said, would be cost-prohibitive.

Mayor Bob Apgar argued that requiring the developer to build elevators would be a mistake.

“I think it’s dangerous to begin to take the building code and weave zoning and building code together,” Apgar said. “Does that mean the commission is going to require some percentage or all of the single-family homes … have grab bars in the showers?”

But, Paiva pointed out, the applicant was pursuing development through the PD, or planned development process, meaning the city could ask for more in exchange for allowing some deviation from the city’s other standard land-development requirements.

The developer had put some thought into accessibility since July, Watts said.

In lieu of elevators, their solution was to ensure motorized wheelchairs with stair-climbing capabilities would be available in the leasing and individual apartment offices.

“If you have a resident who comes in with an accessibility issue, they’re likely to go to a first-floor unit,” Watts said. “If they end up on the second or third floor, and have an emergent accessibility concern or issue, then we would be willing to include a requirement that one or more of these types of chairs be provided in the office for use of the residents of the apartment complex.”

That solution, Watts said, would make Pointe Grand stand out among other apartment projects in and around West Volusia.

Other concerns the commission cited had to do with density.

When it came to a vote, the City Commission voted to deny the rezoning application for Pointe Grand by a 3-2 vote, with City Commissioners Kevin Reid, Jessica Davis and Charles Paiva voting against the project, and City Commissioner Chris Cloudman and Mayor Bob Apgar voting in its favor.

Asked what’s next for Pointe Grand, Watts said he would regroup with the applicant and see if they would be open to lowering the project’s density.

“The proposal only increased the number of units by 30 or so,” Watts told The Beacon in an email, “and the site is in an area identified by the DeLand 2050 plan for increased density and development as a mixed-use node (around the intersection of Plymouth and Spring Garden).”

If Pointe Grand returns as an application to the City Commission, it will take some time. A denial by the commission means the developer must start the application process from the beginning.


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