By Erika Webb
The building at 1701 Airport Terminal Drive, formerly Florida Gourmet Foods, has been sold to Infinity R.E. Investments, LLC for its Miami-based company, Fresh Commodities Inc.
The closing took place on April 30 -- 15 days after the DeLand City Commission authorized staff to start eviction proceedings against "owner" CSB Bank, DPC Holdings LLC due to unpaid rent. Utilities and property taxes also were unpaid.
Infinity R.E. Investments, owned by brothers Hanna Brenalt and Alejandro Bernal Janna, agreed to purchase the building from the holding company and to lease the two-acre parcel on which it is located from the City of DeLand for $15,246 annually.
The city will discount the rent 50 percent for the months of June, July, August and September of 2013 in order for the new owners to make improvements to the building and for the business to become operational.
Fresh Commodities imports, processes, packs and distributes fresh vegetables. The company specializes in growing and trading hot peppers and hot pepper sub-products for further processing. Its DeLand facility will be used for processing and packing sauces, rubs and other condiments under its own brand and for private labels.
Mr. Brenalt and Mr. Bernal Janna are anxious to get started.
"My brother Alex and I found value and charm in DeLand the first time we visited almost two years ago," Mr. Brenalt said. "By the way we were greeted -- by folks in the area -- we simply knew it was worth exploring."
They were amazed by the warm welcome they received from city officials.
"We never expected so much warmth and support from Bob Turk and Dale Arrington, how pro-business and responsive city leadership -- headed by Mayor Bob Apgar and City Manager Pleus -- were to our initiative to relocate," Mr. Brenalt said.
The icing on the cake, he added, was chief building official Matt Adair's pineapple-habanero jam offering at their official welcoming meeting.
"They have been treating us like royalty," Mr. Brenalt said.
"In my mind direct investment goes where it is invited and stays where it is treated well," he added. "We look forward to being a force for good to the university and other DeLand communities."
DPC Holdings will pay all back due rent, utility bills and fire line charges to the city and will remit past due taxes to Volusia County, according to the city.
"We're very excited to welcome them to the city of DeLand," said assistant city manager Dale Arrington. "It was like a whole plan coming together and it's not too often a plan comes together."
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a five-year interlocal agreement with neighboring cities, Deltona and Orange City for automatic fire and emergency medical aid.
The agreement, and the county's consolidated dispatch system, will eliminate extra steps.
"This agreement authorizes the three cities to assist each other in fire rescue emergencies through automatic aid dispatch without meeting the requirements or delays associated with the countywide mutual aid agreement," according to the city.
City Manager Pleus said there have been many occasions when Deltona and Orange City needed backup but had to go through a more "formal process" to get it. DeLand's firefighters already respond to calls from unincorporated areas near the city, and the interlocal agreement will make it easier for DeLand to aid Orange City and Deltona as well, he said.
"The agreement we're requesting for approval tonight is going to have a very minimal impact on the fire resources for the city of DeLand," said DeLand Fire Chief John McDaniel.
All three cities are adequately equipped and staffed to support their own communities, Chief McDaniel said in a phone interview.
"What we've been authorized to do has essentially been in place with the unified communications center," he explained. "This authorizes each city and the countywide communications center to automatically dispatch each of the three cities into each other's jurisdiction. The formal agreement allows us to continue doing something beneficial from the single communications center."
The agreement was finalized days before the county confirmed overnight closures of some fire stations are being considered in an effort to cut costs.
Chief McDaniel said he is not aware of plans to cut back on any fire services.
"Until I know I couldn't comment on how it would affect our resources," Chief McDaniel said.