Category Archives: Business

2 DeBary projects offer boost worth $300 million

Two separate DeBary projects recently announced efforts worth millions. One is a subdivision on the St. Johns River. The other is a mixed-use project along U.S. Highway 17-92.

Riviera Bella grows

A recently announced expansion of Riviera Bella will add to the value of the 708-home riverfront subdivision over 20 years. The total value equates to about $300 million in sales.

Riviera Bella upgrades

The DeBary City Council approved a 66-acre expansion for Riviera Bella last year.

The property, located across Fort Florida Road near Konomac Lake, will accommodate an additional 293 single-family homes.

There are only 150 homesites remaining for new homes within the original 415-unit Riviera Bella development, Jerome Henin, president of the Winter Park-based Henin Group,  said in a statement.

“The logical next step is to expand on that success by adding adjacent homesites and more amenities,” he said.

The old and new sections of the subdivision will be joined by an advanced security system. It will have live 24-hour video surveillance and “interactive monitoring at all amenities and at every entrance. ”

A new amenities package includes a $300,000 state-of-the-art splash park with cabana, along with a nature park, nature trails and four playgrounds scattered throughout the new phases.

“In the original Riviera Bella, M/I Homes is currently selling and building new single-family homes on the remaining 150 homesites,” a statement said. “Priced from the high $200s and with some riverfront homes well over 1 million, those homes are expected to be sold out by mid-2019.”

D.R. Horton will build new single-family homes priced from the mid $200s in the new section. “The homebuilder will start its first models and sales will begin during the first quarter of next year in the new extension of Riviera Bella.  Build-out is projected to be complete between 2022 and 2023,” a statement said.

DeBary Town Center

Meanwhile, a nearly $4 million loan was recently announced for  Charles Wayne Properties for the DeBary Town Center, a roughly 68-acre mixed-use project at the southeast corner of Dirksen Drive and U.S. Highway 17-92.

The property, the largest undeveloped parcel within walking distance of any SunRail station in Central Florida, sits within a zone the DeBary City Council has targeted for high-end growth.

Apartments in Town Center

After years of debate and study, the DeBary City Council approved the first project within the DeBary Town Center in September.

Officials backed an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019, David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development, told council members.

TOD zone

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The property is part of Steve Costa’s 68-acre parcel with frontage along U.S. 17-92. That is part of a 200-acre, SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone.

In recent years, DeBary has laid the groundwork to encourage and manage development in the TOD with special rules designed to ensure high-end, consistent growth.

Development plans include the addition of more than 258,000 square feet of commercial space, according to a news release from Orlando-based First GREEN bank.

Easy-access connectors

“There will also be new, easy-access connection points between the SunRail System and neighboring nature trails,” the statement said. “These additions will help serve and grow DeBary’s population of roughly 20,000 residents by offering new housing, shopping and eco-friendly transportation options.

Plans call for 2,200 residential units of all types, mixed with senior-living facilities and stores, from coffee shops to small groceries, the statement added.

“We are excited to support this project, which will provide the community with a multi-functional area, built to serve both the urban and ecotourist industries,” said Ken LaRoe, founder and chairman of First GREEN Bank. “The area will facilitate more SunRail use, which equates to less carbon emissions, and the area will simultaneously encourage both business development and outdoor recreation. This aligns with our bank’s mission, which supports financially, environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.”

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DeBary assisted-living facility proposed on Dirksen Drive


Another multi-story development – this one an assisted-living facility -is being proposed in DeBary.

The 40-foot, three-story Canterwood Manor Assisted Living Facility is planned on nearly 8 acres northeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive.

That’s across the street from Gemini Springs.

The 120-bed facility would replace two existing single-family rental homes on property owned by Charles and Saundra Grey of DeBary.

Staff support

The DeBary City Council is scheduled to consider the request for the 122,000-square-foot ALF on Wednesday.

Staff planners are recommending approval of the plan, which calls for changing the zoning from residential to commercial.

That makes sense, according to a staff report, because the rentals are currently “isolated from other similar housing stock by surrounding commercial, utilities, or public land uses.”

Using the land for commercial uses “is more compatible than the existing, residential low density,” the report said.

Growth plan

Putting an ALF on that land also fits in with the city’s growth plan, staffers said.

“The proposed ALF meets the intent of the Comprehensive Plan, Commercial/Retail land use classification allowing for higher density housing on the edge of retail areas as a transition to residential uses,” the staff report said.

Nearly two weeks ago, council members approved plans for a larger project south of the proposed ALF.

$25M apartments

That project is a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019.

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The developer is proposing five, 4-story buildings and four, 2-story “carriage” homes.

Costa property

The second reading of an ordinance for the apartment complex is also on Wednesday’s agenda.

The Costa property spans about 68 acres. The apartments are the first phase. Details about the rest of property have not been determined. Though commercial and other non-residential uses have been discussed.

 The 68-acre parcel is part of a roughly 200-acre SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) district along U.S. Highway 17-92.

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DeBary approves $25M complex on Costa property


After years of debate and study, a mixed-use development proposed on empty ranch land in southwest DeBary cleared a major hurdle last week.

The DeBary City Council on Wednesday approved an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019,  David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development, told council members.

“I think it will be a first-class project,” City Council member Mike Brady said before the unanimous vote Wednesday.

TOD zone

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The property is part of Steve Costa’s 68-acre parcel with frontage along U.S. 17-92. That is part of a 200-acre, SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone.

In recent years, DeBary has laid the groundwork to encourage and manage growth in the TOD with special rules designed to ensure high-end, consistent growth.

DeBary Growth Management Director Matt Boerger told City Council members on Wednesday the incentive package was offered because of the potential risk for being the first TOD project.

Vice Mayor Lita Handy-Peters said “all or most of the other SunRail areas have provided either some kind public facilities or financial incentives to encourage development of their TOD areas.”

Boerger said the project would generate $55,000 annually in tax revenue once completed.  Amenities will include a clubhouse, pool,  recreational trails and a water fountain.

Incentives offered

In a report, Boerger said the complex would spark additional development in the zone.  Under the  plan approved by the City Council:

  • $93,000 in park-impact fees are waived for providing such recreational space as trails, a trailhead and other  improvements
  • $30,000 worth of building permit fees are waived
  • $57,000 from the City’s Economic Opportunities Fund will be given to the developer when the  certificate of occupancy for the final building is issued

In response to a question from City Council member Erika Benfield about traffic, Boerger said the Florida Department of Transportation plans to install a traffic light on U.S. 17-92 at Fort Florida Road this time next year.

Timing the light correctly will be important to managing traffic on that section of U.S. 17-92, which will provide access to the complex, she said.

“As far as this project and what we are being asked to approve I think that this is a very positive thing for DeBary. I think that we are in desperate need of homes,” Benfield added.

Bigger plan

The apartments are part of a bigger plan for that area of DeBary.

Earlier this year, DeBary City Council members endorsed a $12.5 million community center proposed for property in the TOD next to the Sunrail station.  Voters must approve the funding and a date for a referendum has not been set.

The TOD has a projected buildout of 25 years.

In all, 2,000 residential units and 400,000 square feet of non-residential space (office, retail, restaurant and general commercial) are planned along U.S. 17-92.

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Hurricane Irma cleanup inspired by Charles Richard Beall

You don’t need to bring gloves or any equipment.

Just show up at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Winn-Dixie parking lot, preferably wearing patriotic-themed clothing,  and prepare for hard work in honor of a local hero.

Hurricane Irma downed trees at a property occupied by the mother of Vietnam War hero Charles Richard Beall. U.S. Highway 17-92 is named in his honor.

Now his mom, 88-year-old Arbutus Beall, and her family need help, according to community activist Bret Douglas, a volunteer who runs the DeBary Legacy page on Facebook.

The DeBary businessman is asking for volunteers to help clear downed trees from her property on Monroe Avenue.

Douglas, a Gulf War-area veteran and horticulturalist, wants the cleanup to be a celebration of  Charles Richard Beall’s life.

Beall was 20 when he was fatally wounded on March 6, 1968 while storming enemy bunkers during the Viet Cong Tet Offensive.

He attacked as snipers shot at an army convoy.

As his platoon tried to rescue the convoy, Beall “rushed the bunkers, one by one, firing into them. Three bunkers were destroyed. He was killed attacking the fourth,” the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996.

That was the year U.S. 17-92 in DeBary was renamed in his honor.

A Beall relative recently reached out to Douglas for help after Irma stormed across Florida.

“I think this is worse than Matthew,” he said, referring to a powerful hurricane in October 2016. Then, as now, the burly man muscled into action.

Douglas, who owns a DeBary landscaping firm called Ironclad Landscape Management, has been highlighted on social media for working hard to help those who need it the most.

The 50-year-old volunteers in DeBary by removing trees, trimming limbs and fixing fences. He said he focuses on helping the elderly, disabled and low-income residents.

Douglas is also building a local ministry with a food bank for the needy.

He says he gets about five to six calls per week from people who need help.

“We answer them all,” Douglas said.

Anyone who wants to help Douglas clean up Arbutus Beall’s property should show up at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Winn-Dixie at 2 N. Charles R. Beall Blvd.

Douglas will lead volunteers in a prayer and provide directions to the Beall home. He’ll also provide drinks and food. And gloves.

“Just show up,” he added.

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DeBary car cruise-ins: Should city get involved?

Nearly every month, car enthusiasts cruise into the Winn Dixie parking lot in DeBary for fun and friendship.

DeBary city staffers took a closer look at this car cruise-in and others in Central Florida for Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

In recent months, City Council members discussed preliminarily whether the city could somehow tap into the popularity of cruise-ins to help provide local entertainment and raise the profile of the River City in a positive way.

The staff report details the state of local cruise-ins but leaves the question of getting involved up to City Council members.

“One question to be considered is if we already have a successful car cruise event, that doesn’t cost the city money, do we need to do anything else?” the report asks.

The issue is listed as a discussion item on Wednesday’s agenda.

As many as 80 cars show up during winter months for the DeBary cruise-in. That number drops to 30 vehicles during summer months.

The event is held on the first Saturday of every month except for September. The summer month hours are from 5 to 8 p.m. and winter month hours are from 3 to 6 p.m.

“They have several business sponsors including AutoZone, Subway” and Chick-fil-A, the staff report said.

“This organization is associated with the Coachman clubs who also have chapters in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. It is important to note that most of these events are termed cruise-ins so special event insurance is not required.”

The report offered details about cruise-ins in DeLand and Sanford. Both are free to the public with no cost to the city.

An event in Longwood is affiliated with a cruise-in club and held the second Saturday of every month.

Organizers charge $400 for marketing, promotions and DJ’ing the event.

“The City of Longwood acquires vendors for $35 ea., handles traffic safety, pays the $400 per event and provides marketing assistance to the club,” the report says.

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Drive-in movie theater envisioned in SW Volusia, report says

The heyday for drive-in movie theaters ended resoundingly decades ago. But a real-estate developer is proposing to build a new one in Orange City just west of Interstate 4.

That’s according to Hometown News, which is reporting that real-estate developer Dan Engel is planning to build “Stetson Drive-in Theater” on 10 acres off Kentucky Avenue.

That would allow for 300 to 500 vehicles, he told the news outlet.

“We have a prime location in Volusia County,” Engel is quoted as saying.

The Orlando native said he added “Stetson” to the name of the project because his well-known mother, Iris Daniel Engel Barnes, studied music on the DeLand campus.

Engel said he has not submitted a proposal to Orange City because he is still working out details with consultants.

The property is south of State Road 472 and west of I-4.  A traditional movie theater – Epic Theatres of West Volusia – is located on the east side of I-4 in nearby Deltona.

Drive-in movie theaters are so rare in Florida you can count them on two hands.

There are seven, according to That includes on in Ocala and another in Lakeland.  The state had as many as 150 in 1955.

“There have been many reasons attributed to the rapid and steep decline of drive-in movies,” the website said. “But we believe the three biggest reasons are the move to Daylights Savings Time, the introduction of VHS movies and increasing land values and taxes.”

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Fire on the Bayou Restaurant ignites SW Volusia

They can’t wait for another serving of kick-ass sausage bites. Or gumbo. Or crawfish etouffee.
Satisfied diners at Orange City’s latest eatery, Fire on the Bayou
Restaurant, already want to return.
This American/Cajun/Creole-themed restaurant in the Orange City Town Center on Enterprise Road has a following. It just opened Aug. 1.
“The food is on point, everything was great,” David Pojero wrote in a post on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! “The servers did the best they could given how busy they were. Their prices are a bit higher than I thought it would/should be, but the food was so good.”
The restaurant is at  921 Town Center Drive, Suite 1100, in the Orange City Town Center. That’s on Enterprise Road across from AMF Deltona Lanes.
“We went last night and the food and service was spectacular,”  Lori Coolidge wrote on DeBary Proud! on Facebook. “It’s a shame though it’s so small I kind of felt guilty finishing my meal while people were standing to be seated..”
Another poster,  Howard Gates, it’s probably best for them to start small and grow into the business.
“If they have a good year or two, then they can look to go bigger,” Gates wrote.
  • 921 Town Center Drive, Suite 1100, Orange City, FL
  • @FireontheBayou
  • (386) 218-0771
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Stephen Bacon: Brady’s wrong, ‘I am a statesman’

Stephen Bacon passionately defended himself Thursday – a day after he was slammed by a DeBary City Council colleague in a wide-ranging rebuke for his behavior during public meetings.

DeBary City Council member Mike Brady on Wednesday (Aug. 9) blasted Bacon, calling him a time-wasting, grandstander who wrongly questioned the integrity of Interim City Manager Ron McLemore.

“There wasn’t one item that Mr. Brady stated correctly,”  Bacon said in a 320-word message to DeBaryLife on Thursday.

“The bottom line is that I am not a politician. I am a statesman,”
Bacon declared. “I am interested in improving the quality of life the safety, jobs and the economy in DeBary and keeping DeBary with the lowest tax rate in the County.”

Mike Brady
Mike Brady

At first, Brady chewed out Bacon for his behavior during an Aug. 2 meeting when Bacon questioned an item on the consent agenda, typically a routine part of the meeting.

Trailer issue

Bacon took issue with a measure to dispose of a nearly 7-year-old, worn-out utility trailer originally purchased for less than $2,000, Brady said.

The discussion inappropriately turned into a debate about the function of the consent agenda, Brady said.

Bacon said his questions were justified “because this process was abused in the past with large items that required discussion. As such, this was not about the one insignificant item that was on the agenda.”

Bacon debate

Brady said Bacon’s issues turned what should have been a 30-second item into a six-minute debate.

In all, Brady blamed Bacon for dragging out a meeting for more than three hours, even though it should have been just two-hours long.

Bacon’s behavior since taking office in January came up Wednesday under an agenda item called Discussion of Council Decorum. and it covered more than just the Aug. 2 meeting.

Dam safety

At one point, Brady slammed Bacon for his questions about the dam encircling the roughly 1,100-acre Konomac Lake in south DeBary.

Bacon said he simply brought up a resident’s concerns about the dam, which holds back 3 billion gallons used to cool water from Florida Power & Light’s power plant on the St. Johns River.

“The safety issue of the banks in Konomac was brought up by a complaint from a resident seeing emergency repairs in December 2016, when I was a candidate,” Bacon said. “Yes, the banks leak and they have maintenance issues 24/7. ”

DeBary Konomac Lake
DeBary Konomac Lake

A power-company official during a DeBary City Council meeting in December acknowledged leaks, though he insisted there was no danger, there never has been and the property is monitored constantly and everything is approved by all regulatory agencies.

Asked whether earthen dams leak, FPL’s regional manager Larry Volenec said: “That’s why there is a drain at the toe of the dam because there is slight seepage and that water is taken and put right back into it.”

Bacon said that’s a problem.

“At first, FP&L admitted nothing and then the truth came out,” Bacon said Thursday. “Is it an issue? You bet because there will be a thousand homes on the West side of that Lake” adding that the lake “contains enough water to wipe out all the homes should the bank give way.”

At the December meeting, Volenec noted that employees are on staff to ensure the safety of what he called a “cooling pond,” a man-made lake built in the 1970s.

The dam is inspected on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annual basis, Volenec added.

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TeleTech: 600 jobs heading to Volusia in 3 years

A ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday will mark the grand opening of TeleTech’s new Daytona Beach location, where 600 jobs are planned over three years.

Volusia County beat out four other locations vying for the “customer experience” provider’s new location, according to county economic-development boosters.

The Englewood, Colorado-based company has already invested $5 million for the expansion, which is expected to bring an annual payroll of more than $20 million.

The company has 48,000 employees worldwide, including roughly 1,000 workers at two locations in Brevard County:  Melbourne and Rockledge, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

The company, founded in 1982, recorded $1.24 billion in annual revenue in 2014.

Team Volusia Economic Development Corp. landed TeleTech by beating out competitors in Mobile, Alabama and three cities in Texas, according to Volusia County.

TeleTech moved into space previously occupied by insulation company TopBuild Corp.

“TeleTech has entered a long-term lease for 43,000 square feet of space, with an additional 20,000 square feet of space for future expansion, in the building formerly occupied by TopBuild,” Volusia County said in a statement.

“Due to our aggressive promotion of the former TopBuild Corp. Corporate Headquarters to site selectors and brokers throughout the United States, the space became highly sought after,” Keith Norden, president and CEO of Team Volusia, said in a statement.

He said recruiting TeleTech involved a “number of community partners,” including:

  • Volusia County Government
  • Enterprise Florida
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • CareerSource Flagler Volusia
  • Daytona State College among others.

“Special thanks go out to Mr. Dick McNerney with Adams Cameron who represented the Fisher Family, owners of the building, and negotiated the lease,” Norden said.

TeleTech is eligible to earn a tax refund of up to $180,000 for job creation. The state would pay 80 percent with the county covering the balance.

TeleTech qualifies for the incentive because at least 60 employees will earn more than $41,288, or 115 percent of this year’s average wage.

Volusia County Council members, other local dignitaries, and business leaders will gather celebrate at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 260 Jimmy Ann Drive, Daytona Beach, for the ribbon cutting.

Grand-opening career fairs will be held at this location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, and Thursday, Aug. 10.

“TeleTech is actively hiring licensed health and life insurance agents and customer experience representatives interested in obtaining their insurance license, and other administrative and management positions,” a statement said. “For employment information, visit”


DeBary vandalism: Genuine Bistro savors support after window smashing

At first, the reaction in DeBary was outrage and surprise.

But the community quickly rallied behind  Genuine Bistro, offering cash and other forms of support after vandals smashed a window at the popular restaurant on U.S. Highway 17-92.

Then it took another positive turn when Genuine Bistro owner Olexiy Kuzmin proposed using the cash donations for another residents’ effort to help feed the needy.

The support surfaced Sunday as word spread about the as-yet-unsolved vandalism at 2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd. from the pro-community Facebook page DeBary Proud. Tipsters can contact authorities through these links or by calling 1-888-277-TIPS.

“I am so sorry this happened, what a disgrace, ” Vickii Davies-De Marco said in a post Saturday shortly after the crime was announced.

One Facebook user, Denise Glickler, was so moved, she set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations to help Kuzmin pay for repairs.

He thanked Glickler but asked her to close the fund-raising site.

“Our customers (have)  been very loyal and supportive to us for years and I really don’t think it’s necessary. I really appreciate it,” he wrote. “But I really don’t feel like (collecting) money from people for our building issues. I am still DeBaryProud and I know that a lot of people in our community have more problems (than) our broken window. Thank you so much for your support again.”

By the time she got the message, more than $140 had been raised toward the fund’s goal of $500.

“Greg Runge will receive this check for his new project of feeding homeless people in our area,” Kuzmin said in another post.

Kuzmin posted video from security cameras showing possible suspects but the images don’t reveal many details. Facebook responders posted theories about who was responsible.

“There are 2 boys that run the street constantly with no supervision,” said Keri Kay. “The one is super skinny and taller the other shorter and a little thicker. .. The VCSO knows them very well…”

Meanwhile, other Facebook posters offered comforting words and introspective thoughts.

“This is not a reflection of DeBary, nor the times we live in,” Vera Rekstad said. “This is sadly the perpetual dark and ugly side of human nature which exists everywhere on earth and in all times since the beginning of history. We must overcome it and counter it with good. It’s great to see so much positive support for our friends and neighbors.”

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