Update, June 21:
GlassHouse rehearing is a nonstarter
Following the DeLand City Commission’s June 5 decision to deny a rezoning application for the city’s dilapidated Old Jail property by developer GlassHouse Square LLC, a request for another shot at a rezoning hearing wasn’t taken up June 19.
Per the City of DeLand’s code, if a proposal is voted down by the City Commission, the applicant may return at the following meeting and request another chance. One of the members of the body who previously voted against a proposal must be the one to make a motion to rehear that proposal.
“We are looking for this commission to hopefully reconsider the time and effort that has gone into this and the amount of impact this project will have on the city and Downtown at large,” Mike Prelec Jr. said to the City Commission.
Prelec Jr. is one of the owners of Deltran Operations USA, a company tied closely with GlassHouse Square LLC, the developers selected by the City of DeLand in 2018 build a multiuse development in the Old Jail’s place
In addition to Prelec Jr., his attorney Alex Ford also asked the City Commission to give them another chance.
The City Commission didn’t budge.
Following silence from the two present commissioners who could have made the motion — Charles Paiva and Dan Reed — Mayor Chris Cloudman said it was time to move on.
“Unfortunately I don’t have a motion on the floor,” he said, “so I won’t be able to move forward.”
With a rehearing off the table, another option for the GlassHouse developer is to challenge the city’s decision in the courts. Per City Attorney Darren Elkind, GlassHouse Square LLC has 30 days since the City Commission decision June 5 to file a challenge.
As for the city’s relationship with GlassHouse Square LLC, the acquisition and redevelopment agreement between GlassHouse Square LLC and the City of DeLand will have to be addressed during a future joint meeting between the Downtown DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency and the City Commission.
Original Story, posted June 13:
Nearly five years after GlassHouse Square was selected to rehabilitate DeLand’s dilapidated Old Jail, the City Commission June 5 denied the planned development proposal due to the developer’s failure to provide concrete plans.
The proposal was denied on a 4-1 vote by the City Commission, with Commissioners Charles Paiva, Jessica Davis, Dan Reed and Mayor Chris Cloudman voting to deny the project and City Commissioner Kevin Reid the lone vote in GlassHouse Square’s favor.
GlassHouse Square LLC’s attorney Alex Ford requested the City Commission give the developer a third chance at a first reading to rezone the 1-acre lot that includes the Old Jail building over lack of clarity on what the government body wanted, but the City Commission turned them down.
Last September, when the planned development agreement for GlassHouse Square came before the City Commission for a first reading — the first of two approvals the developer needed to move forward with the project — the City Commission agreed to delay a vote on the project to allow the developer time to iron out specifics on a parking plan, assurances that the project’s second phase would either be built or that the city would be able to build on the vacant land and other elements.
More than eight months later, those specifics hadn’t been ironed out. Ford said that’s because the city was unclear about what it wanted.
“I will say, I walked away from that meeting thinking, ‘I’m going to do my best to discern what five different people gave me direction on,’” Ford said. “If I didn’t do that the way this commission wants me to do it, I beg you to please tell me what it is you want me to do. I would appreciate that. I think your staff would appreciate that.”
Later in the meeting, Mayor Cloudman expressed his misgivings.
“If we were so muddy nine months ago, the first time anyone’s reached out to me about this project again was Friday afternoon,” he said.
And while many internal discussions among city staff focused on whether the developer would build 50 parking spaces on-site, build spaces in an undetermined location within 800 feet of the project or pay $10,000 per parking space into the city’s parking fund, Community Development Director Rick Werbiskis said, there was plenty more about the project that was unclear.
“From a staff level,” he said, “I have consistently requested additional detailed information with respect to the green space, landscaping, [and] location of parking.”
Ultimately, it was Commissioner Paiva who made a motion to deny the proposal despite being one of GlassHouse Square’s most vocal supporters in past years.
“As much as it kind of pains me to do this,” Paiva began, “… being a big proponent of this early on, I just feel like we’re not quite there.”
His concerns were:
— A lack of a defined use for the plaza at the center of the GlassHouse Square project,
— A lack of “public access to the pedestrian walkway” connecting New York Avenue to Georgia Avenue,
— A lack of a replacement for the existing roughly 30 public parking spaces on the Old Jail property,
— A lack of a plan for the project’s second phase,
— A lack of a clear, defined timeline for the project,
— Effects on Downtown businesses during the construction due to the removal of public parking
— and concerns about “the viability of the project.”
With a second from Davis, the denial passed.
City Commissioner Kevin Reid, before voting against the denial, said he was worried if the city turned down GlassHouse Square, it would earn a reputation as challenging to work with.
“We’ve got a developer that wants to work with us, and we’re essentially going to start this process over,” Reid said. “I understand the reasoning for it, but I would much rather go toward a continuance than a denial.”
The denial of the planned development proposal for GlassHouse Square does not necessarily mark the end of the developer’s relationship with the City of DeLand.
When the City of DeLand decided to pursue a public-private partnership to rehabilitate the site of the Old Jail, GlassHouse Square LLC was the developer chosen to enter into an acquisition and redevelopment agreement that would culminate with the city approving a development plan, demolishing the Old Jail and turning over the deed for the property to GlassHouse.
Even though the developer’s rezoning request was denied June 5, there’s still time for the developer to appeal the commission’s decision.
City Manager Michael Pleus explained that GlassHouse Square LLC has two options.
“First, would be to go to the next meeting and ask one of the 4 City Commissioners that voted to deny the rezoning to vote to reconsider and then they would be afforded a chance to bring back a revised proposal,” he said. “Second, would be for the court to grant a writ of certiorari that would require the City Commission to rehear the proposal.”
The window to request a reconsideration of a commission decision is small — a representative of the developer would have to do it at the City Commission meeting following the decision, Monday, June 19.
Asked whether the developer planned to appeal the city’s decision, GlassHouse Square LLC’s attorney, Alex Ford, told The Beacon, “No comment.”
After that, City Attorney Darren Elkind told The Beacon, the City Commission can decide whether they want their relationship with GlassHouse Square LLC to continue.
“We will be making a decision sometime after the June 19 meeting about holding a joint meeting of the City Commission and CRA in order to consider termination of the ARA [acquisition and redevelopment agreement],” he said. “All of that is largely dependent upon whether the City Commission grants rehearing.”