Long considered a retirement town with no real commercial core, Deltona will be transformed into a metro-marketplace if Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. has his way.
Just a few months after he was elected mayor of the biggest city in Volusia County, and the second largest city in East Central Florida, Avila is revealing his dream of what Deltona will or should be, now that it has grown up.
“We have not had some type of vision. I want to create a vision,” he told The Beacon.
While other Deltona leaders, past and present, have talked about establishing a downtown commercial core for the sprawling city, Avila wants Deltona to have, not one, but at least three retail centers!
“I definitely want to see the One Deltona concept on Deltona Boulevard,” he said. You read it right: One Deltona. It would be West Volusia’s answer to the One Daytona shopping and dining attraction directly across from Daytona International Speedway.
That’s not all. Avila wants an Uptown and a Downtown: commercial centers in their own right and perhaps situated at each of the ends of Howland Boulevard. One of the commercial complexes would be at or near the Howland interchange with Interstate 4, and the other would be at or near the intersection with State Road 415.
What Avila envisions is not to be confused with the Deltona Village, a long-planned mixed-use development offered by Frank DeMarsh, owner of Epic Theatres.
DeMarsh also heads an investment team working to transform more than 160 undeveloped acres at the convergence of Normandy and Howland boulevards into a merchandising mecca that will satisfy the needs and wants of today’s Deltona residents now and in the years ahead.
Avila says he has studied DeBary’s proposal for a Main Street center, to be built just north of the SunRail station, and he likes the idea of mixing shops, stores and offices with their owners in the same building.
“I want to see the employers with shops in the ground floor,” he noted, with the upper floors to be inhabited by residential renters. Those tenants would also be a market for the products and services offered on the street level.
DeBary’s Main Street, planned to offer some similar concepts, is supposed to break ground later this year.
While Avila’s plan for multiple commercial cores in Deltona to support a city of nearly 100,000 people is quite ambitious, he said it is doable — without spending tax dollars.
“The question I get asked all the time is, ‘How are we going to pay for this?’” he said.
What is the answer?
“Developers are going to pay for this,” he said.
Avila said city government can provide the guidance and attract investors and developers who in turn will provide Deltonans the marketplace they currently travel to Orange City, DeLand or Sanford for.
Can Mayor Avila convince others to join him in his American dream?
“I’m one piece of a pie of seven,” he said, referring to the seven-member City Commission. “The city manager is excited.”