By Erika Webb
DeBary will soon get its first multi-unit apartment complex for adults, age 55 and over.
Earthmovers are at work at the southeast corner of Saxon Boulevard and U.S. 17/92 in DeBary, clearing a large portion of the 23.6-acre parcel designated as Saxon Pointe Swallows Planned Unit Development.
Atlantic Housing Partners, Winter Park, bought the 14-acre tract, now zoned as Saxon Cove, from Orange City developer Savol LLC.
Saxon Pointe originally was zoned as the Swallows Community Development Area in the 1970s. Portions of it are now Glen Abbey and Saxon Woods. Retail and office uses were permitted in the original approval. In 2011, permitted uses were amended to add senior age-restricted multi-family housing, and a special exception has been created to permit day care centers.
Savol LLC managing partner and developer Terry Williams said his company bought the property from its original owners in 2005.
In late 2012 the DeBary City Council gave final approval for the Overall Development Plan, allowing the property to be divided into seven lots -- ranging from 1.24 to 14.88 acres each; the 84-unit senior housing development will be on lot 7 and the Ladybird Academy day care center is proposed for lot 1.
Ladybird Academy is a franchisee of Lake Mary-based Ladybird Franchising Co -- "one of the very few franchise companies in the child care industry that owns and operates its own construction company," according to the company's website.
Construction on the DeBary academy is expected to begin this month, according to a spokesperson in Ladybird Franchising's corporate office.
Mr. Williams said the land clearing has inspired much interest in the property's outparcels, especially lot 2.
"Since construction started we're getting calls daily," Mr. Williams said. "We have two or three people interested in the corner, for 7-11-type convenience stores with gas, that sort of thing."
"This is one of the finest developments I've done in the Orange City area since I started there in 1979," Mr. Williams said. "
Calling Atlantic Housing Partners "easy partners to work with," he said the company was eager to acquire the 14 acre-site, "because of so much interest in senior housing here."
In addition to several industrial parcels on Rhode Island and Leavitt avenues in Orange City, Mr. Williams has developed much of the commercial area from U.S. 17/92 down Enterprise Road and along Saxon.
He said when he began to develop properties along Enterprise it was a two-lane, 20-foot wide road.
"The only thing from Four Townes (Shopping Center) to Deltona was the Kiddie Kollege. Saxon was a tar and gravel road," Mr. Williams said.
He also developed the Woodlands and Glen Abbey.
"I've developed over 200,000 square feet of residential and commercial properties. I'm getting tired," he said laughing.
Bernie Senez, Senez Real Estate Inc., is a 33-year veteran in the West Volusia real estate business. His office is almost directly across the street from Saxon Pointe. He said what Mr. Williams has planned there is the right thing at the right time.
"I think what he's doing is fantastic. It's a very smart move right now," Mr. Senez said. "I think these adult communities are just great communities. And the daycare, too ... everybody wants to see their kids safe in a place like that."
He said when parcels sit vacant they cost, rather than profit, landowners and that Mr. Williams "had to stop the bleeding."
"I'm really excited about it. I think it helps everybody's values," Mr. Senez said. "Activity creates activity and good growth breeds good growth."
Mr. Williams said prospective buyers are looking at a win-win situation.
"Once the multi-family housing goes in, all the infrastructure is going in," Mr. Williams said. "Whoever wants an out parcel will get it ready (to build) ... roads and utilities will be at their lot line. And all storm water (drainage) will be developed initially. Each parcel won't have to hold its own storm water."
"Building is starting to increase, and I'm seeing a little bit of a turn in the economy," Mr. Williams said. "We're excited about the future of these outparcels."