Building a new town, west of I-95.
Avalon Park Daytona — the master planned community west of I-95 that could bring in over 10,000 new people into the area — is scheduled to break ground in the first quarter of 2021, according to a press release, and Avalon Park Group is aiming to create a place where resident can "live, learn, work and play."
“I believe that’s the way everybody should develop," CEO Beat Kahli said. "That’s what I’m passionate about.”
The Daytona Beach development will be adjacent to Latitude Margaritaville and extend north to State Road 40. The property spans over 2,600 acres, and if the comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning is approved by the city of Daytona Beach, could include 3,350 single family homes, 1,650 single family attached units and 5,000 multi-family units. Based on the 2019 national average of a typical U.S. household, with 10,000 planned residential units, the number of people that could eventually occupy Avalon Park Daytona could be closer to 25,000.
The amendment would also permit up to 730,000 square feet of retail and 270,000 square feet of office space.
It will add over $2 billion in ad valorem values to Daytona and Volusia County, according to a press release.
Kahli said it will be a "traditional town" suited to cater their residents' needs. Like Avalon Park Orlando, which is home to about 18,000 and has its own downtown district and schools, Avalon Park Daytona will be its own walkable city and will create jobs.
It's the right way to develop, Kahli said.
A 'massive scale development'
When Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington first heard of Avalon Park Daytona, he said he was shocked at the size of the development, and the amount of traffic that could result on Granada Boulevard once it is built out. Partington said he understands why a development like that would be successful in Orlando and Tampa, both markets Avalon Park Group have tackled. But for the mayor, the development doesn't fit Volusia.
“The fact that they want to do that here kind of says to me they don’t understand what Volusia County is all about," he said. "We are an environmentally-sensitive primarily residential area and these massive scale developments that Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Miami might look for is not really what Volusia County is looking for.”
City Commissioner Dwight Selby called the development "gigantic," and said that with access onto State Road 40, Ormond is the one that will feel the impact. On office and commercial space square footage alone, Avalon Park could have 50% of what Ormond currently has along the stretch of Granada Boulevard from I-95 to the beach.
“That’s what concerns me more than anything else, is that while it’s in Daytona Beach and it’s all being approved by Daytona, virtually all of the impact is in Ormond," he said.
Why is the development so large? Kahli said it has to be in order to build the kind of community he seeks to bring to Daytona Beach.
The $75 million bond proposal
Avalon Park Group has also thrown in an additional proposal for Daytona Beach and Volusia County: It's offered a partnership to fund three major road projects that have already been identified as needs to help with the current infrastructure.
The widening of State Road 40, the Hand Avenue extension and the extension of Tymber Creek Road to connect with LPGA Boulevard.
The proposal, according to a press release, includes a $75 million bond under Avalon Park Group to fund these projects, with a plans to repay the bond via impact fees and property taxes generated by the development.
Kahli said proposal was an idea that is still being discussed. The roads mentioned are already challenged, so improving the infrastructure wouldn't only be to the benefit of Avalon Park, he explained.
"That’s not a settled deal," Kahli said. "Rome wasn’t built in one day but one thing we have a track record for the last 25 years is we build infrastructure — public infrastructure — first.”
City Commissioner Rob Littleton said the bond is one of the two biggest concerns he has with the project, with the second being traffic.
“The possibility that the citizens of Volusia County could be on the hook for the road
improvements that Avalon should be making themselves, is a non-starter, in my opinion," Littleton said. "I have no doubt Avalon will make a good faith effort to pay the bonds fully, but as the riots and COVID-19 have shown, a great economy can turn bad quickly.”
Partington doesn't believe $75 million would enough to cover the infrastructure needs. The Hand Avenue extension alone was budgeted by the city at $24.8 million in the past, though the mayor said it could cost up to $30 million.
“If the developer paid for the appropriate infrastructure to be in place and made sure that there was plenty of adequate capacity for the roads that are out there, then it would make sense for a development to go into place, but until that happens I don’t think it’s prudent in any way to allow it to occur," Partington said.
The proposal creates an interesting situation, Selby said. He believes a Hand Avenue extension is needed, so the proposal could carry some appeal, but not if the taxpayers will be responsible for it in the long run.
“I can’t fault [Daytona Beach] for being for it, but I do think in the spirit of cooperation and in the spirit of working together and doing what’s good for the entire area, I think it’s incumbent upon them to work with us," Selby said. "But while we’re talking, they’re approving.”
Ormond's service agreement with Daytona
Aside from being Daytona's neighbor to the north, what is Ormond Beach's role in the Avalon Park development?
Because of a 2006 comprehensive settlement agreement with Daytona Beach, Ormond is will be providing water and sewer to Avalon Park. It will sell the utilities to Daytona at a wholesale price, and Daytona will then sell the utilities forward to its new residents at a retail price.
Ormond Beach City Attorney Randy Hayes said the benefit is Daytona bears the burden of constructing the distribution and collection lines; Ormond just has to provide utilities and any improvements the city has to make to its facilities to be able to provide has to be reimbursed by Daytona Beach.
If Daytona breaches the agreement, it loses the right to sell Ormond's utilities on a retail basis. Ormond can then provide utilities at the rate for those who reside outside the city.
The agreement usually requires the municipalities to share information on projects to ensure planning and understanding of the impacts, Hayes said. That hasn't happened this time, and Hayes said that's "unfortunate and a little frustrating."
Whatever happens in Daytona affects the surrounding communities, he said.
“I think everybody recognizes that eventually growth is going to occur and I think we all recognize that growth does not respect corporate boundaries," Hayes said. "I think we all understand that we, all of us as public officials, have a responsibility to ensure that as growth develops it occurs in a reasonable fashion that does not negatively impact or burden the citizens within our community.”
And the city has the right to inquire about possible negative impacts, Hayes added. If they had been involved from the beginning, perhaps their questions and concerns could have already been addressed.
Building a town
City Manager Joyce Shanahan said her main concerns are the intensity and the density of Avalon Park Daytona.
"No matter how much Avalon Park says they’re going to capture internally with traffic, there’s one beach and it’s on the east side of Ormond Beach, and there’s one way to get there, and that’s Granada Boulevard," Shanahan said.
She added that the city has worked hard to make improvements along the Granada Boulevard corridor and that people are still going to leave Avalon Park to use the city's amenities, which will impact Ormond residents' quality of life.
By building more densely, Kahli said they are able to leave more green spaces and wetlands untouched. If every new project was developed like Avalon Park, Kahli said a community's infrastructure needs would lessen. He believes Avalon Park Daytona will be an economic driver in the community and will improve the area. People are skeptical it can be done, he said, but he's already achieved that in other cities in the I-4 corridor.
“For me, it’s just building a town and not a subdivision,” he said.