deland commons
GRAPHIC COURTESY ATLANTIC HOUSING PARTNERS
ON ITS WAY — The latest design for multifamily project DeLand Commons’ main apartment building is shown here. Changes made to the four-story building are minor since the project was last presented to the City Commission in December, but include adding more brick and more cement and removing some of the building’s Hardie board.

Downtown DeLand is finally getting apartments, but parking might be tight if you’re not a cyclist.

City regulations required the DeLand Commons apartment complex to have 403 parking spaces. The developer balked at that high number.

What the City Commission OK’d was 383 parking spaces, but only 262 of those will be for cars. The rest are for bicycles, and the majority of the bicycle-parking spaces will be inside people’s apartments.

DeLand Commons is a 180-unit apartment complex to be built between the DeLand Regional Library and Ace Hardware, with a mixed-use commercial-and-residential building fronting on South Woodland Boulevard.

On Jan. 18, the former Save-A-Lot grocery was already being demolished to make way for the development.

VIDEO COURTESY JEREMY CANOVA
ALREADY STARTING — The day after the DeLand City Commission approved the site plan for DeLand Commons, demolition had already begun on the building that once housed the Save-a-Lot grocery store on South Woodland Boulevard.

Relying so heavily on bicycle parking is one step toward changing DeLand’s car-centric culture, the developer’s attorney said. The change might take some adjustment, he said, but shifting to multifamily housing in Downtown DeLand and fewer cars on the road are part of the city’s plan.

“If you’re going to accomplish the No. 1 goal that we’ve had for 30 years as a community, to have Downtown residential, and to have this mix of uses come into Downtown,” Atlantic Housing Partners attorney Mark Watts said, “if you’re going to accomplish that goal, it’s going to be uncomfortable at times.”

A new kind of DeLand?

It has long been a goal of city officials to have multifamily housing in Downtown DeLand, and DeLand Commons is Downtown DeLand’s first apartment housing project. It was approved by the DeLand City Commission Jan. 18 after a year of back-and-forth between the city and the developer. The project will offer 180 units of multifamily housing, as well as commercial space on the main building’s first floor, which fronts on Woodland Boulevard.

A site plan for the apartments was approved by a 4-1 vote, with City Commissioners Kevin Reid, Jessica Davis and Charles Paiva and Mayor Chris Cloudman in favor, and City Commissioner Dan Reed casting the dissenting vote.

The development of DeLand Commons will be aided by a tax-increment incentive package approved by the Downtown DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency in 2022. The tax breaks could be worth as much as $3.5 million.

The project’s approval by the City Commission came after the design of the apartment’s main building was harshly criticized by a number of city panels. That building will front along South Woodland Boulevard and will become one of the first structures visitors to Downtown DeLand see as they enter Downtown DeLand from the south. 

Since it was last seen by the City Commission in December, the design was altered somewhat, with some Hardie board changed out for cement and additional features added on the building’s first floor.

The City Commission’s other sticking point in December was parking for the project. Atlantic Housing Partners had proposed 256 parking spaces for the 180-unit complex. After the developer paid for a parking study, that number was kicked up to 383.

But there’s a catch: Only 262 of those parking spaces will be for motor vehicles. The other 121 are for bikes, and 81 of those bike-parking spots come in the form of in-unit bicycle storage. The rest will be outside in more traditional bicycle parking.

Newly elected City Commissioner Dan Reed wasn’t a fan.

GRAPHIC COURTESY ATLANTIC HOUSING PARTNERS
WHAT TO EXPECT — The main apartment building fronts South Woodland Boulevard between Voorhis and Howry avenues. That building will include 60 multifamily units as well as ground-floor commercial space. A second four-story apartment building will contain 113 units and will front on South Alabama Avenue. The remaining seven units will be composed of two carriage homes and five town homes south of East Voorhis Avenue along South Clake Street.

Even though developers are allowed to substitute bicycle parking for as much as one-third of a project’s required parking, Reed didn’t like it.

“I think 121 bike parking spaces is almost laughable,” Reed said. “Look, we’ve magically created 121 bike-parking spots. I get that it’s the code, I understand it, but I don’t agree with it.”

Parking allotted for commercial businesses was another hot topic.

At the beginning of the Jan. 17 City Commission meeting, the developer proposed 16 parking spaces for 11,000 square feet for commercial businesses on the ground floor of DeLand Commons’ first building. By the end of the discussion, Atlantic Housing Partners had agreed to 36 parking spaces for businesses in the complex.

Strict adherence to city code would have required between 40 and 50 parking spaces, but the developer said a number of the residential spaces would be considered “flex spaces” that would be open to the public during work hours.

But what if a shopper patronizing one of the businesses accidentally parks in an apartment parking spot?

Commissioner Reed worried the developer’s towing company would have a field day.

“I’ve been in that situation. You’re not paying attention, you’re in a hurry. You wind up a $50 purchase costs you $300 when you get your car back,” Reed said. “They don’t care that you parked there by mistake.”

Reed was ultimately the lone dissenting vote on the project’s site plan. He voted no because he didn’t think the parking plan was what the City Commission asked for. 

“The whole thing seems like a mess to me,” Reed told The Beacon. “I would have preferred it be laid out and reviewed before a vote.”

While the City Commission did approve DeLand Commons’ site plan, that approval came with conditions: 

— Additional brick facade on the exterior fronting on Voorhis Avenue.

— The addition of 20 commercial parking spaces, bringing the total from 16 to 36.

— A predetermined plan for what hours businesses in the DeLand Commons building are allowed to be open, as agreed between the city staff and the developer.

— An updating roster of businesses and renters, so the city can keep tabs on the complex’s parking.

Demolition of the former Save-a-Lot grocery store began Jan. 18 just one day after the City Commission approved the site plan for the apartments that will replace the dilapidated building. As far as how soon DeLandites can expect the apartments to be built, attorney Mark Watts said to expect them soon.

“These guys tend to move quickly,” Watts said of developer Atlantic Housing Partners. “It won’t be one that sits and lingers.”

Atlantic Housing Partners owns all of the land for DeLand Commons, and construction is expected to begin within 30 days of the completed demolition on the property.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Once this project is completed, will I be able to find a parking space when I go to ACE Hardware, or will the ACE Hardware parking lot end up being overflow parking for the tenants and commercial space shoppers?

  2. Agree or disagree with this project, I do appreciate the level of the discussions that went into this project by members of the DeLand’s City Commission.

  3. Thank you Dan Reed for voting no. As a DeLand native, I’m super disappointed in the rest of commission on this ridiculous plan that will hurt downtown. I go downtown all the time, and sometimes even during non events, it’s already hard to find parking. Having any sort of event downtown will be a parking nightmare.

    Downtown area is for a small number of housing, and primarily for businesses. The definition-
    adjective
    of, in, or characteristic of the central area or main business and commercial area of a town or city.

    Why bring housing downtown when you can make deland more inviting from the south by adding additional parking, a nice small park area next to the library, and a few businesses to boost up our local economy. People who will live downtown, won’t all work downtown. Help the area housing already existing around downtown by continuing restoration and beautification projects.

    This will only hurt our local economy, cause overcrowding, and have a multi floor eyesore to invite people into downtown.

  4. It already takes me 50 minutes to drive from North Deland to Orange City during daylight hours. Night time 25 minutes, traffic here is already insane as it stands now! They keep building more housing here with no solvable way to help the I-4 level of traffic. Spring Garden Road and Amelia are also choked up during rush hour thanks to wanting more taxpayers in city limits.

  5. I assume the 262 parking spaces mentioned for cars does not include the 36 mentioned for commercial parking. If so, then 262 divided by 180 apartments is just under 1-1/2 spaces per apartment. I am a snowbird who lives in downtown Dayton, Ohio half the year. At my building, we do fine with actually less parking spaces than units, even including on-street parking. But only certain people are comfortable with this way of living.

    I notice A LOT of the parking spaces shown in the picture of the document are south of Voorhes, but the two big buildings (173 of the 180 units!) are north of Voorhes. THIS to me is a bigger issue than the number of spaces.
    Are a big percentage of the residents of the two main buildings going to need to cross Voorhes Avenue to get to and from their cars? Voorhes is a busy street! I know, because I live two houses away from it (half the year). A walk signal will be absolutely necessary, but even with one, that could be a crappy setup for the two main buildings. But if the spaces south of Voorhes are assigned to apartments in the Alabama/Voorhes building close to Voorhes that would work OK, because the people renting those apartments would know ahead of time that’s where their parking is.

    • …Today I drove through the other extreme… the newly built Lincoln Oaks subdivision just north of Plymouth and east of Orange, near the hospital in north Deland. This is not in the city limits, so I assume the county approved it. It was depressing… all the houses, on tiny lots, have giant double garage doors taking up 3/4 of the front, with just a front human door next to the garage door in each house. The only windows are above, in the second floor! Yuck! -It looks like a brand new ghetto, truly a neighborhood for cars instead of people.

  6. As a library patron and volunteer, I can see future parking problems when residents overflow into the library parking lot.

  7. Irresponsible best describes the city council members who approved this plan. I guess it’s city regulations be damned! And which of these elected officials, lawyers, and or developers lives downtown and has sold their automobiles. Mark Watts said, “if you’re going to accomplish that goal, it’s going to be uncomfortable at times.” I believe that is verbal diarrhea. Is he going to set the example for us???

    • And with the new medical marijuana shop that’s going to be right in the heart of Main St.–Woodland at the old Dick & Jane’s location (paying outlandish rent) will there even be a quaint, desirable downtown destination in a few years? Seems like all the years of hard work of Main Street Assoc. may have been futile.

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