An Amazon-like project, with a huge warehouse, hundreds of trucks coming and going, and the prospect of hundreds of new jobs, looms on the horizon in Orange City.
“It’s in the early steps of the process,” Orange City Senior Planner Danalee Petyk said. “It’s just getting started.”
While the name of the prospective occupant of the planned distribution center is not known, the proposal filed with the city’s Development Services, calls for a warehouse of 714,387 square feet — almost 16 1/2 acres under roof, along with parking for 210 trucks and 254 standard vehicles.
The intended site is on the southeast corner of State Road 472 and Kentucky Avenue.
Who or what may come?
“As far as we know, it’s a shell building,” Petyk said. “We don’t know the end user.”
A “shell building” is an unfinished structure that may be built for a variety of activities, whether storage, manufacturing or a combination.
The applicant for the project is TDC Acquisitions LLC, of Atlanta. Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a nationally known engineering and design firm with offices in Orlando, produced the site-planning documents.
Kimley-Horn was instrumental in the development of Amazon in Deltona, and the firm is involved in the construction, now underway, of a 1 million-square-foot warehouse-distribution center across from Amazon along North Normandy Boulevard in Deltona.
Kimley-Horn’s website describes the company’s track record on similar spaces:
“Kimley-Horn has planned and designed more than half a billion square feet of space across the country — with more than 100 million SF built in the last decade. We know how to make your project a success.”
First, the Orange City will require rezoning of 44.54 wooded acres. The land is currently zoned for MX-2, meaning mixed-use development, but the applicant is asking for a change to PUD (Planned Unit Development).
A draft development agreement has already been prepared for the project known as the North Kentucky Distribution Center.
The city’s Technical Review Committee, a panel of planners and senior administrative staffers, examined the warehouse project earlier this month.
The development also includes a 3-acre stormwater pond, tree-preservation areas and landscape buffers. The PUD provides 16.57 acres of open space, including the pond.
So far, neither the Orange City Planning Commission nor the City Council has actually discussed it. Before the development may move forward, the City Council must conduct at least two public hearings and vote twice, on different dates, on the ordinance to change the zoning of the property.
The warehouse project is not to be confused with The Crossings, a mixed-use development to be created on 26 acres adjacent to the distribution-center tract. The work of Trycon Management & Leasing Inc., of DeLand, The Crossings is to be a combination of retail shops, restaurants and apartments.
Before any development of the site may occur, the property will have to be checked for threatened or endangered species.
“The environmental assessment indicates the presence of gopher tortoises on site. An updated gopher tortoise survey and permits from FWC [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] to relocate the on-site tortiously population will be required prior to the site development,” reads the Technical Review Committee’s Aug. 2 memorandum.
The development agreement notes the following:
“The project shall implement the USFWS [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] Standard Protection Measures of the Eastern Indigo Snake immediately prior to and during future project construction.”
“A scrub jay survey conducted in accordance with USFWS guidelines is required before site plan development order, and habitat mitigation completion before construction commences.”
Moreover, before development occurs on either The Crossings property or the warehouse land, changes will be in order on Kentucky Avenue, which is now a two-land road between East Graves Avenue and S.R. 472.
“There will be some improvements required,” Volusia County Engineer Tadd Kasbeer said. “That’s dependent on what they put in.”
Kasbeer noted one of the first businesses to open in The Crossings will likely be a service station and convenience store, followed by a restaurant. To get into and out of these and other businesses such as a planned hotel and apartments, turn lanes will have to be added onto Kentucky. The developer, Trycon, will have to provide or pay for the turn lanes. The warehouse center plan envisions three access points along Kentucky Avenue.
Using data collected in 2021, Volusia County’s Traffic Engineering shows that Kentucky Avenue has an average daily traffic count of 10,830 vehicles. The same 2021 traffic report shows the segment of S.R. 472 between I-4 and Kentucky Avenue/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway has an average daily traffic count of 32,000.
The word about the North Kentucky Distribution Center comes as a new high-cube warehouse is going vertical in Deltona, across North Normandy Boulevard from Amazon.
In addition, the Orange City project comes in the wake of the County Council’s decision to amend the zoning of properties in the unincorporated parts of the county along and around S.R. 472 to recognize warehouse distribution centers as a permitted use in the commercial districts of the now-defunct Southwest Activity Center.
Much of the land is owned by the F.A. Ford family, who requested the zoning amendment. Alex Ford declined to say if any such development is imminent on his family’s properties.
The Southwest Activity Center was supposed to be an economic-development showcase at the interchange of I-4 and S.R. 472, similar to Heathrow in Seminole County.
The SWAC was a development of regional impact (DRI) that covered some 1,800 acres at and around the interchange. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, civic and business leaders dreamed of a grouping of upscale office parks, light industries, retail centers, hotels, homes and apartments.
The project was a joint-planning venture of the county and the cities of Deltona and DeLand. Orange City was not a party to the SWAC, but it stood to benefit by providing water and sewer service to many of the then-anticipated businesses.
Despite intensive and costly planning, nothing happened in the special zone. The properties within it remained undeveloped. The DRI expired in 2009, and Deltona became the first to lure economic activity to its former share — about 900 acres — of the SWAC.
Following the advent of a Duke Energy substation, Epic Theaters opened in 2011. Then, Amazon opened its 1.4 million square-foot fulfillment center at 2600 N. Normandy Blvd. in 2021.
In addition, the Deltona piece of the old SWAC has a 90-bed Halifax Health hospital and a medical-office building, along with service stations and fast-food restaurants.
Apartments are being built next to Epic Theatres, as well.