The old Hotel Putnam in Downtown DeLand lived many lives before it was demolished earlier this year. Now, the demolished hotel at 225 W. New York Ave. may live on as an 84-unit affordable housing building if a St. Petersburg developer gets its way.
Blue Sky Communities hasn’t closed on the Putnam property, but the developer is under contract to purchase it. With government funding under its belt, the next step, Blue Sky Communities President Shawn Wilson told The Beacon, is to submit plans to DeLand.
“We plan to submit … a development application to the city in the coming months. Then we will see how that proceeds through the process,” he said. “We want to make sure we do it right rather than doing it fast. There’s a lot of government funding involved.”
The St. Petersburg-based developer has built out a number of projects across Florida, namely in St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and more. And with housing costs so out of reach for many, Wilson said his company understands the need for affordable housing.
“The fact of the matter is that developing costs are so high that every new unit that’s created, whether it’s an apartment complex or a single-family home, has to be sold and rented at a rate that is not affordable to most working families,” he said. “In order to provide housing for working families, the government has to step up. In this case, they have. There’s just a huge shortage in every city where we operate.”
Thanks to a relief fund created by the state after hurricanes Ian and Nicole battered Florida, Blue Sky Communities, Wilson said, received $9 million in funding to put toward affordable housing projects like what he envisions for the Putnam property. They have also received affordable housing funding through Volusia County, too, he said.
“We have heard about and we’ve researched about the importance of the Hotel Putnam to the city and to Volusia County,” Wilson said, “and we are committed to being good neighbors and getting input from other stakeholders on the look of the building and paying the appropriate tribute to the long history that existed at that site.”
If all goes according to plan, he added, residents will be moving into one of the 84 apartment units where the Hotel Putnam once stood in two-and-a-half years. Information about how to get a unit in the building won’t become available until construction begins — and that’s if the city gets on board for the project and the developer purchases the property.
“Blue Sky’s goal is to help local communities and local governments achieve their objectives in the area with affordable housing development,” Wilson said. “This property fits some of the important criteria that were laid out by the state in the funding application and the county in their funding application. We look forward to working with the City of DeLand on the all-important site plan approval and permitting processes.”