By Cecil G. Brumley
The modern convenience store has become the central point of everyone's lives. There are very few people in Volusia County who didn't visit a c-store in the past week.
While near the bottom of the retail pecking order, they are a good gauge of how well an economy is doing. In bad times, you'll see a lot of them vacant, forlorn eyesores along the highway. In good times, new ones will pop up with ever flashier displays inside and out.
The c-store scene in Volusia is in transition. The Great Recession left numerous empty shells across the county. But they are slowly coming back. Sunoco's plans in East Volusia will give the resurgence a big boost, redeveloping several, including one in Daytona Beach Shores where demolition just began.
Just with the entire Volusia economy, c-stores will take two steps forward and one step back, but when you can drive more than five miles and not see an abandoned one, it's a good sign the economy is back.
Many years ago, there were no convenience stores with their big gas pump islands, large array of snack food items and never-empty beverage kiosks. There was the simple gas station, usually with just two gasoline pumps and essentials for your auto. There are very few of those around. At Orange and Palmetto avenues in Daytona Beach, one operates at American-Foreign Auto Repairs. Now, across the street, property owner Delores Zaharios wants to open the Filling Station Restaurant in an old station built in 1920. It could work, Ed Waldens Bar has done just fine in the old gas station at Bellevue Avenue and Beach Street in Daytona Beach.
Surprisingly the latest bed tax collections report shows Volusia was down 3.06 percent in November from November 2011. Reports on occupancy and rooms rates have all been good. Also, Southeast and West Volusia were both up. That can only mean a large operator or two in the Halifax area was late forking over their bed tax collections.
As we watch to see which massive project on the ocean in Daytona Beach starts construction first, Protogroup moved a step forward, seeking approval from the Main Street/South Atlantic Area Redevelopment Board of its final site plan. Protogroup has proposed a 27-story 502-room hotel on the east side of North Atlantic Avenue, south of Oakridge Boulevard, connected to a 29-story 105-room condominium and parking structure, north of Oakridge Boulevard.
Commercial real estate deals continued at a fast pace at the end of the year. The biggest was for the Kohl's store property in Port Orange for which a group of Utah investors paid $12 million. But more interesting was SHRI Dayavant buying the Conch House, one of the last of the Bray & Gillespie hotels still in the hands of the liquidator, for $2.38 million. The buyer immediately started renovations on the property at 700 N. Atlantic Ave. A group of investors bought Golfview Plaza in the 500 block of Beville Road in South Daytona for $2.13 million. Ormond Beach investor Ty Lohman bought a group of multi-family properties in Daytona and South Daytona for $2.05 million. A real estate investment trust bought the fairly new Family Dollar Store in South Daytona for $1.87 million. A Canadian investor has bought the building housing the Daytona Yoga & Wellness Center, 816 S. Atlantic Ave., for $1.3 million. Lastly, Silvestri Investments, developer of the huge Oceanwalk Condos in New Smyrna Beach, bought a big chunk of land next to Venetian Bay in New Smyrna for $1.1 million.
In construction news, DeLand Toyota is beginning work on a new showroom. The Pantry is giving its convenience store at 2910 Howland Blvd. in Deltona a facelift. And the Ocean Sands Resort, 1024 N. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach, is getting remodeled.
Two last West Volusia notes, Fancy Fruits & Produce is going into the former John's Appliance City in Orange City. John's moved to where Atchley Appliance was located. Apparently some entrepreneurs are counting on a lot of coffee drink along U.S. 17 north of DeLand with a coffee shop planned at 1680 Woodland Blvd. and another in the Karlings Restaurant in DeLeon Springs.
Associate Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business in Volusia County for more than 15 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.