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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 7 months ago

Church property in Ormond Beach could be demolished, city considers building a parking lot for now

As three of the five City Commissioners were in favor of razing the building, the city will draft up formal plans for the demo.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Should the 56 N. Beach St. property be a community center? Should the city build a parking lot? Should it be resold at a profit? Should they build a new building and move the library from city hall?

These were all questions the Ormond Beach City Commission addressed at the workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 7, to discuss the future of the 1.29 acre church property, which also includes some riverfront land. The city bought the former Ormond Beach Riverside Church building for $729,000 in June 2018, and the 1974 structure has remained empty since the congregation vacated the property later that year. The commission was presented with four different options by civil engineering consulting and design firm VHB, three of which revolved around constructing a new community center.

A view inside the 56 N. Beach St. church. Courtesy of the city of Ormond Beach

The first option was to demolish the church building and construct a brand new building, the second and third options were to renovate it, and a fourth proposed demolishing the building and building a community parking lot. 

After discussion on parking concerns, riverfront views and what to do with the furnishings and items still inside the church, the commission decided to move forward with a building demolition and consider making the land a parking lot until input is sought from residents on what they would like to have. After all, three of the commissioners — Susan Persis, Rob Littleton and Troy Kent — were in favor of tearing the existing structure down.

“I’m very cost-conscious as we move forward," Mayor Bill Partington said. "I’m not in a rush at all.”

City Manager Joyce Shanahan said she would come back to the commission with a formal demolition plan, to include the cost of a potential parking lot in the meantime, and that she would look at community outreach.

A room with a view

A shared concern by all the commissioners regarding VHB's design was that the proposed site plan would eliminate 15 parking spaces, reducing the spaces to a total of 59. The commissioners also didn't see a need for a new park on the riverfront land, as that would take away from the building's view of the river and could be better utilized as a parking lot.

“If we build something, I think we need to have a good view for the residents," Persis said. "Period.”

Some of the proposed plans' placement of staff offices and kitchen granted the spaces a view of the river, rather than the ballrooms.

Selby also found the cost estimates to be low.

Exploring other options

Some of the least favored discussed options included selling the property or moving the library. Commissioner Troy Kent said that, seeing as Ormond's library is highly utilized, it would create too much traffic on the nearby residential streets. 

“There’s a lot of opportunities — I think is the best way to say it — in the downtown area that involve city facilities, and I could see this building being renovated, and being renovated in a very positive way," said Selby, who was in favor of further exploring what uses would make sense in that property when considering the future.

A community center may not be that use.

He suggested keeping the building in its current state until the city decided on what they wanted to do with it, but Shanahan said that, with its non-functioning air conditioning unit causing concern for possible mold, needed electrical repairs and questions about the integrity of the roof, preventative maintenance would not be cost-effective.

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