An apartment complex on Spring Garden Avenue in DeLand was approved on first reading by the DeLand City Commission Nov. 21, after being rejected earlier.
If approved on a second reading, the 204-unit project will be built next to the Cascades neighborhood, just north of Plymouth Avenue.
When the DeLand City Commission saw Pointe Grand apartments in August, they weren’t enthused. The project was recommended for approval by a hesitant Planning Board, whose members had concerns about the fact that the nine three-story apartment buildings wouldn’t have elevators.
The City Commission denied the rezoning application for the project by a 3-2 vote in August, arguing that the project was too dense, not accessible enough, and not affordable enough.
After the project was denied, developer Hillpointe’s attorney, Mark Watts of Cobb Cole, asked the City Commission to reconsider and allow his client a second shot at a rezoning application. The commission allowed it.
When the project came back before the City Commission Nov. 21, there was one notable change: bonuses for local health care employees who move to the complex within two years after Pointe Grand’s construction is finished.
With medical offices and AdventHealth DeLand hospital nearby the proposed project, after hearing some proposed tweaks from the City Commission, the developer settled on this structure for the incentives for workers needed by medical facilities within 1 mile of Pointe Grand:
— A 50-percent discount on the security deposit required to move in,
— A complete waiver of the application fee,
— One month of rent free,
— and a cap on rent increases of 5 percent.
Twenty percent of the project’s units, attorney Nika Hosseini of Cobb Cole said, would be set aside for residents who could take advantage of these bonuses for the two years the bonuses would be available.
Residents who remain employed at nearby medical facilities would be able to take advantage of the bonuses unless they move to nonmedical jobs outside of the 1-mile radius. The 1-mile requirement was chosen by the developer to encourage alternatives to driving to work.
Some on the City Commission weren’t initially sold on the project, despite the changes, especially since commissioners’ calls for elevators or other accessibility options weren’t answered; the developer said it wasn’t feasible.
The Florida Building Code requires elevators only in buildings that are four stories or taller, and while the developer’s attorneys had proposed having devices on-site that could provide assistance in climbing stairs for residents who needed it, the city’s fire chief wasn’t a fan.
Two neighbors spoke against the project, voicing their fears over the project’s high density and the number of cars the apartments would bring to DeLand’s roads, potentially causing more crashes.
But with multifamily housing already built across Spring Garden Avenue in the form of the Oak Ridge Condos, and the project’s placement in a corridor already identified by the city as a place for high-density residential development, attorney Hosseini said it was a no-brainer.
“It makes sense to have this kind of housing stock in this area,” she told the City Commission,
The project was approved unanimously by the City Commission, and Pointe Grand is expected to return to the DeLand City Commission for a second reading — the final step before the developer can start the first phase of work on the project — on Monday, Dec. 19.