apartment concept bank of america deland
MAYBE? — At left is the Framework Group’s concept for apartments to replace the Bank of America building at 230 N. Woodland Blvd. At right is the current building that would need to be torn down to make the developer's plans a reality.


That’s how DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar described a plan to raze the Bank of America building at 230 N. Woodland Blvd. and replace it with at least 280 apartments.

The Downtown DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency and the City Commission liked the ambitious project when the two boards saw preliminary plans Oct. 10. The CRA even agreed to infuse Tampa-based developer Framework Group LLC’s plan with a hefty tax incentive worth as much as $9.5 million.

“… We’ve come up with something that we think is not only appropriate and exciting,” Framework CEO Phil Smith told the DeLand officials, “but we think will be a catalytic change for you in Downtown DeLand.”

Smith estimates that the final project could be valued around $48 million.

The CRA earlier this year agreed to a similar incentive package for DeLand Commons, an apartment complex planned on Downtown DeLand’s south side. That package is valued around $3.5 million.

Framework plans to tear down the Bank of America building and replace it with 290 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, along with a 500-space parking garage.

The project also calls for:

— Construction of a replacement building for Bank of America, across the street in what is now a public parking lot south of West Church Street. Bank of America still needs an office, and the developer wants to relocate the bank to a brand-new, smaller building. The deal also calls for building new parking east of the public parking lot, to replace the spaces lost to the new bank building.

— Turning a block of West Church Street, from Florida Avenue to Woodland Boulevard, into an eastbound one-way road to direct traffic leaving the complex toward Woodland Boulevard.

Housing in Downtown DeLand has long been a goal of city leaders, and, Smith said, apartment living is desirable for many people, not just college students and people who can’t afford to buy a home.

“People want to be in Downtown DeLand. People love Downtown DeLand for all the same reasons that you do, and I do, there just aren’t enough places for them to live,” he said. “If we gave places for them to live, I think you’d find people who can work from home will want to live Downtown.”

The tenants Framework is looking to appeal to, Smith told The Beacon, are young professionals and people approaching retirement age, with a mix of people in the middle.

“… [A] typical profile might be a professor, attorney, manager, accountant, engineer, physical therapist, young couple, retired couple, et al.,” he said.

The project would completely change the character of Downtown DeLand, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, City Commissioner Chris Cloudman said.

“Just be cognizant that many people are going to feel the concern or the worries about this kind of change,” Cloudman said. “But I think, in the end, most people will see the benefit afterwards, and see that this is a good change, a good addition to help the heart of our city continue to thrive, and continue to grow in a way that provides services for our entire population as well as yet another option for housing other than just the standard single-family home model.”

There was also the question of parking, and the developer plans to slightly increase the number of available spaces Downtown. While the parking garage would be mostly reserved for residents, other parking spaces on Church Street and in an adjacent lot are planned for the public. The garage may have a small number of public parking spaces.

“The goal has always been that the number of spaces that are there for the public now remain,” City Manager Michael Pleus said, “and the net spaces we pick up as a result of efficient layout and the grass lot will hopefully be more than enough for Bank of America or any tenant.”

The grass lot Pleus referred to is east of the existing public parking lot on West Church Street. Framework would build new parking spaces there.

As for the incentive, Smith and City Commissioner Charles Paiva estimated that over time, the project would contribute more than enough to the city’s tax base to cover the investment of up to $9.5 million.

Without that infusion of funds, Smith said, he isn’t sure Framework could make the plans work.

NEW NEIGHBOR — This graphic shows how Framework Group’s apartment complex would fit into the Downtown DeLand neighborhood bounded by Church Street and Wisconsin Avenue on the south and north, and Woodland Boulevard and Florida Avenue on the east and west. The draft concept shows a swimming pool and 500-space parking garage on the site, along with 290 apartments.

What will happen to Bank of America?

Framework’s ambitious Downtown apartments are still in the early stages, in part because developer Framework Group has to orchestrate a great switcheroo: Move Bank of America’s Downtown DeLand office from one location to another with little interruption in banking services.

The current plan is to build a new building in the parking lot at the intersection of North Woodland Boulevard and West Church Street, next to Firehouse Subs. The City of DeLand owns that lot, and the City Commission agreed to lease the land to Framework if the company can get Bank of America to agree to the plan.

A lot hangs on that agreement, Smith said, because the entire project is contingent on the bank moving out of its current home.

But all of this is very early. The letter of understanding signed by the city gives Framework five years to get the project off the ground. Once construction begins, the developer estimates it will take two years to complete.

As of Oct. 13, Framework does not have a written agreement with Bank of America to go forward with this plan, but Smith said discussions are ongoing, and Framework is optimistic.

If the development is built, Framework CEO Smith said, the plan is for the developer to build other projects in DeLand.

One possibility is future development through Framework’s sister nonprofit organization, the Porchlight Foundation.

Porchlight focuses on affordable-housing developments, Smith said, and is currently working on a multifamily development in Hillsborough County specifically for formerly incarcerated women and their children.

“Once I get a market-rate development approved and moving, that’s when Porchlight can engage most effectively, since we’ll have a permanent presence,” Smith told The Beacon. “In the meantime, though, I want to get to know who is doing what locally with respect to nonprofits that have a housing need, get to know them, and see how we can help.”

The next step for the Framework project is formal submission of rezoning request with a planned unit development or “PD” agreement. That will go before the city’s technical review committee, then the Planning and Historic Preservation boards, before the City Commission gets a look at it again.

Historic Board member questions whether anyone heeds the board’s advice about development design

Before coming before the DeLand City Commission and the Downtown DeLand CRA, Framework made a stop at the DeLand Historic Preservation Board Oct. 6. The advisory body takes a look at all projects proposed in the city’s historic Downtown.

While most of the board members liked the project, some took issue with the scale of the building and how much glass its outer facade would have.

The City Commission brought up the same concerns, but, as far as scale, DeLand attorney Mark Watts of Cobb Cole argued the scale wasn’t out of step with the rest of Downtown DeLand.

If built, the Framework apartment building would be the 10th building in Downtown DeLand — including one just outside — measuring four stories or taller. That includes the Hotel Putnam (five stories), the Historic Volusia County Courthouse (four stories) and College Arms Towers (16 stories).

One Historic Preservation Board member expressed frustration about the board’s concerns not being heard. Dagny Robertson wasn’t able to attend the Oct. 6 Historic Preservation Board meeting, but she said her concerns and the board’s recommendations weren’t heard when another apartment project, DeLand Commons, came before the City Commission.

“Apparently if someone goes before the HPB our discussion and decision is not then attached to the application that goes before the Planning Board or the City Commission,” Robertson wrote. “Apparently the applicant can just say, oh yeah the HPB loved it,and that’s good enough. I am so utterly disappointed with the City of DeLand’s system.”

Robertson didn’t mince words about the Framework project.

“Although it is at least attractive and upscale, it’s not the same architectural style as downtown and it’s also massive,” she wrote. “It may look nice now because it’s the current trend, but in 20 years it will just look out of place and dated, just like the bank building looks now, and so many other replacement buildings downtown.”

Attorney Watts said he planned to sit down with Robertson to try to alleviate some of her concerns. He also intends to return to the Historic Preservation Board with samples of the materials the developer plans to use.


  1. I wonder why this project was not shared with the community through a public meeting sponsored by Main Street or even the Community Redevelopment Agency before the CRA approved a $9.5 million dollar grant of taxpayer money from the Tax Increment Trust Fund.
    I also wonder if anyone pays attention that the legal requirements of the Community Redevelopment Act that limits the use of these Trust Fund monies to projects to alleviate slums and blight, provide affordable housing and even foster historic preservation. Is the replacement of the Bank of American building with market rate apartments out of scale with Historic Downtown DeLand any of this? Is the Bank of America building really slum and blighted? Or is this simply an economic development project supported by the growth and development interests of elected officials and developers seeking to profit from our community?

  2. If you want to see what ” modern” buildings do to your historic town, just visit Asheville N,C.!! or any other city over 100 yrs old!! The contrac between old and new is jarring.
    The hotel/motel that replaced historic brick church in DeLand is ugly and out of place! The original part of church could have been incorporated into the Marriots welcome center/coffee shop! What a nice welcome that would be!!
    The tax incentives seem to provide only service jobs after the investors, builders, and money men leave town.

  3. Dear Betty; You remind me that the DeLand Historic Preservation Board (HPB) on August 4, 2022 recommended approval of the demolition of a 99-year old Downtown building at 236 South Alabama Avenue. This recommendation, done in violation of DeLand’s own City Code of Ordinances, was given even though no one, not even the attorney representing the developer, the Members of the HPB, the City Attorney nor the City Historic Preservation staff, knew anything about the history of this 99-year old building, and this recommendation came even though City Staff admitted that they had never been inside the building to determine its condition. From an impartial observer’s perspective, it seems the demolition recommendation was approved simply because the developer’s attorney asked for it, and there was an “old boy’s network” relationship among all the individuals involved. With the exception of one HPB member and a homeless person who testified on the need to preserve DeLand’s history, all seemed more interested in accommodating the developer than protecting the heritage of Downtown DeLand. And, it appears that the Community is either not aware that these type of important decisions are being made, or there is really no community interest in protecting the City’s heritage. Either way, when the demolition permit approval comes to the City Commission, this “old boy’s network” is likely to simply approve demolition because it was requested–no matter what the City Code requires or what policies and plans direct.

  4. I can not believe that any person who loves DeLand would approve a project so out of scale as this right downtown. Downtown DeLand is delightful precisely because of its small scale. If this project is approved, the densification of the downtown will drastically change the atmosphere. I have seen this happen in South Miami with an oversized mall imposed on the main street of what was a small town atmosphere. Real estate prices immediately go up per square foot. The hair salon I had been going to for years had to move. He couldn’t afford the rent any longer. A bookstore I loved went out of business. So did a popular deli. The corner drugstore with a lunch counter serving great chili and grilled cheese sandwiches closed. Parking became a nightmare. A parking garage was part of the mall but even there places were scarce. If there was only one attendant, it sometimes took 30 minutes just to exit. I wonder what Downtown DeLand’s position on this proposal has been solicited. More customers and business doesn’t necessarily mean progress. We have an enviable quality of life in DeLand which is what has drawn developers to our area and helps them sell their real estate. Too many people crammed into downtown will alter that reality. This is not pessimism. This is realism and it’s sad to see.


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