The newly elected mayor of Deltona is pitching a plan to bring a downtown corridor and other urban-style mixed-use development projects to Volusia County’s most populous city.
Saying that many of Deltona’s roughly 100,000 residents go elsewhere to dine and shop, Santiago Avila, who was sworn into his mayoral seat in November, has drafted a plan called “A city of Destiny: Looking Forward” in which he proposes three community center concepts he’d like to see emerge with restaurants, retailers, and apartments.
Avila’s next step is to present his ideas to his fellow City Commissioners in hopes of winning their support. If that happens, the city would need to identify land where the projects would go and then seek out developers to deliver the products.
“While this concept has not been created or endorsed by the City of Deltona, it has always been one of my top priorities to create a community center that provides shops, restaurants, and other mixed uses,” he wrote in a March 7 Facebook post. “I look forward to feedback from our citizens as this concept continues to take shape.”
Avila is proposing three separate projects: Downtown Deltona, Uptown Deltona and “One Deltona.” The latter, Avila says, is modeled after One Daytona, a 300,000-square-foot mixed-use destination with restaurants, luxury apartments, shops and hotels across the street from the Daytona Beach International Speedway.
“At a minimum, I’m hoping we get at least two of these entertainment districts,” Avila told GrowthSpotter. “We have a really large population and we really don’t have a place for the community to go and be with their family, hang out, a place where they can take their kids. That’s what we are missing. I think we can incorporate a downtown or Uptown with new development that incorporates green space. We can give people a sense of community without having to go over the bridge,” into Sanford.
But even if the city commission agrees to pursue projects like this, the question becomes: Where would they go?
Avila gave some ideas when asked by GrowthSpotter.
He mentioned land owned by the Volusia County School District on Dr. MLK Boulevard across the street from The Center at Deltona, the city’s event center.
Avila said the city could explore purchasing that land from the school district and then solicit bids from the development sector for a mixed-use concept.
He also noted land along Deltona Boulevard that the city has already put public CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) funds towards.
“We can create opportunity zones; that area right there would be prime for a One Deltona. Right there we’d benefit from having different commercial shopping and fun for our residents.”
Avila said there’s also potential around Deltona Village, a mixed-use project that’s already under development on Graves Avenue, near I-4 and the intersection of Howland Boulevard.
Deltona Village, located between an Amazon distribution center and Deltona High School, currently contains a movie theater — Epic Theatres — and several out-parcel tenants such as Burger King and a RaceTrac gas station.
But the 150-acre site will one day be home to more than 1,200 apartments, restaurants, a national grocery store anchor, 50,000 square feet of light industrial warehouse space, and a hotel, according to Nathan Palmer, a managing partner with Leaders Real Estate who’s overseeing the development of Deltona Village.
Integra Land Company is building 300 multifamily units on the southeast corner of the property. The company is seeking final approval for another 300 units on an adjacent parcel for phase two. Meanwhile, a parcel to the north is slated to host another 600+ apartments.
Palmer said his team has already received commitments from a hotel and a grocery store, but names can’t be released at this time.
“Before COVID, we had it all teed up, and then everything went on hiatus,” Palmer said. “But now it’s all back there again.”
He added that a Starbucks, Panda Express, and a fitness center from a national franchise are also slated to move in, while 13 acres are still available for development.
“This is a very suburban community that has just kind of grown without a lot of non-residential growth,” Palmer said, adding that his team’s project aims to change that.” We have a lot of other users who want to be here (at Deltona Village) we are just trying to figure out some of the bigger puzzle pieces first.”
As Avila pushes to see other mixed-use projects like this move in, he wants input from residents and other city leaders.
He expects to present his ideas to his fellow commissioners in the coming weeks.
“I’m not saying that my vision is the perfect vision, but my vision gets the conversation started,” he said. “We need to have a conversation as a city as to what direction we want to go. We need to talk about it, and the very most important thing is to include the residents so they have a say.”
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