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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 6 years ago

Citizen of the Year, Bill Jones, honored for work in downtown restoration

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The Citizens for Ormond Beach presented entrepreneur Bill Jones its top honor last weekend, for his work restoring Ormond Beach's former glory.

BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER

Bill Jones, the man who is changing the face of downtown Ormond Beach through property renovation, said he’s not a developer.

“I think of myself as a restorer,” he said last week, after accepting the annual Citizen of the Year Award from Citizens for Ormond Beach, at a dinner in the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center.

Jones said Ormond Beach has a lot of history that needs to be “preserved and glorified,” and his work is a labor of love.

“I want this town to be what it was,” he said. “This was a heck of a town in 1901 when Rose Villa was built. Rockefeller lived here. Flagler built the Ormond Hotel.”

He also pointed out the historical significance of the automobile speed records set on the beach in the early 1900s.

Upon presenting the award, Rita Press, president of the civic group, said that Jones “improved, enhanced and used imaginative architectural elements to transform ordinary buildings to points of interest.”

Jones, through his company Highlander Corp., has renovated several buildings along the boulevard, including the Buschman Building, Rose Villa, Caffeine (now Grind Gastropub), Frappes North and the plaza that includes Miss Priss and Dunn’s Attic.

His next “gem,” he said, will be the white, art deco-style building known as 31 on the Boulevard, just east of Rose Villa. In remodeling the building, he said he adopted designs that he had seen in Hollywood, Calif., and did some “fancifying” to create a structure that will reflect the 1930s, the time period the building was constructed.

Jones said it’s an example of a building being “re-purposed.”

“It was originally an old map shop that had fallen into disrepair,” he said. ”It will be a place where we can go and experience the feelings of the 1930s and 1940s. We can possibly have dancing, good food and just a good time. It’ll be something to be proud of. That’s what I want.”

The eagle on the front of the building above the door is from an old bank building from 1933, he said.

But Jones is quick to dismiss praise. “I’ve got an incredible crew,” he said. “There are hundreds who should be standing up here receiving this award.”

He also said the city and community have been “very gracious” and helpful.

“It’s all you guys working together,” he said.

Jones’ father retired to Ormond Beach in 1978 and fell in love with the town, Jones said. He relocated his company here in 1986 from Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I’m just amazed how lucky I was to find this town,” he said. “This is a place to bring up kids and have a family. I was struck by the civility of it and the peacefulness of it and just the vibrancy here."

But he's not finished restoring.

“There’s plenty more for me to do,” he said. “I have some ideas and things I want to do.”

“It inspires and encourages small business to open in the area,” Press said of Jones' work.

Citizens For Ormond Beach was formed 30 years ago, when a residents banded together to save The Casements from destruction. Press said the organization works with government and other civic groups. Visit cfobonline.com.

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