By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
The city only got one bid on property it owns at 103 Faulkner St., according to Tony Otte, director of the New Smyrna Beach Economic Development Advisory Board.
"We received a proposal from White Chalice Redevelopment," Mr. Otte said. "We will likely bring it back to the City Commission in December."
The first step is to bring the proposal to the Plan Review Board and if it approves, then negotiate the details of the contract before it can be presented to the City Commission, according to Mr. Otte.
The 1.4 acres on Faulkner once housed shuffleboard courts and a state park. It is the site of a fire station that will soon be decommissioned once a new station on State Road 44 is completed. The bidding on the land opened June 6 and closed Aug. 8. Mr. Otte said the city may reopen the bidding, depending on how the proposal plays out. It also may reopen or extend the bidding period on several other properties, such as 160 North Causeway, which was the old administrative office building location. A complete listing of city properties for sale or lease can be found at demandstar.com/su plier/bids/agency_inc/bid_list.asp ?f=search&mi=307625.
Mr. Otte attributed the lackluster response on the properties to the current development market in part and also said, "This is a niche market. With a site like this, you have to find the right developer interested in this kind of product."
The zoning allows for a mix of residential and commercial at 103 Faulkner.
Daytona Beach-based White Challis redevelops underutilized properties in historic urban areas into places where people can work, live and play. It works closely with cities and counties to revitalize urban areas and create an environment for an active urban lifestyle. The details of its proposal to redevelop the Faulkner site have not been released.
The city is under no obligation to accept the proposal, even though it is the only response it has received. "We don't have to pick the first bid that comes along," Mr. Otte told EDAB members. "It depends on what details are in the plan." If those details do not fit in with the Community Redevelopment Agreement or direction the city wants to go concerning the land use, it may reject the proposal and start over.
Mr. Otte said he authorized his staff to put up new signs on the Columbus Avenue properties where five lots are for sale. That property also had an old fire station on it, but has been vacant for several months now. The city prefers to sell all five lots as a unit, but is entertaining bids on individual lots. This bidding opened Sept 16 and closes Oct. 16.
In other business at the EDAB meeting, there was discussion of moving some buildings out of the downtown area in favor of economic development. Two buildings discussed were the AT&T building, which is privately owned, and the Utilities Commission Building, owned by Volusia County. A suggestion was to move them across the railroad tracks along U.S. 1 or down S.R. 44. Redeveloping those properties could enhance downtown New Smyrna Beach, according to some EDAB board members. No decisions were reached, but dialog is expected to continue between the city and the county.
The EDAB also welcomed Carl Watson, the new executive director of the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority. Mr. Watson explained to the board the goals of the SVAA are and how he is committed to working with the various city governments to promote tourism, business growth and new industry.
"We need to let people know there is a value to this area," he said. "The more there is to do here, the longer they will stay here."