By Susan Wright
Earlier this month, in the final hours of this spring's session, the Florida Legislature approved giving millions of dollars in state sales tax incentives to Daytona International Speedway.
In fact, the final version of the bill may end up giving DIS owner International Speedway Corp. more money than it originally asked for.
The final version of the bill, which also allows tax rebates for other sports stadiums around the state, will make DIS eligible for up to $3 million a year in tax rebates for 30 years to fund the Daytona Rising project, a multimillion-construction project already providing thousands of jobs and economic benefit to the area.
Exactly how much in tax rebates DIS will get is not clear because of competition for the funds, which are capped at $13 million a year for all projects in the state.
Daytona Rising is a $400 million renovation of the DIS front stretch, described as "reimagining" of the sports icon, originally built in 1959. The finished product will contain concourses, 11 "social zones," escalators and more luxurious seating. DIS President Joie Chitwood III told Forbes magazine last year "right now (the Speedway) looks like a racetrack with a grandstand. I want it to look like a motorsports stadium."
That was in 2013, shortly after that year's Legislature had failed to vote for the tax rebates.
Now, the project is full steam ahead, already producing construction jobs and giving the entire area an economic boost.
Meanwhile, just across the street, an even more impressive project is taking shape.
One Daytona, an about $1 billion project with plans that are expected to dramatically change the Daytona Beach area, also was granted public funding -- this time by the county and city of Daytona Beach -- over the past few months. Between the two local governments, the project will receive about $44.5 million in public money.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said the combination of projects will be transformative.
One Daytona, which is actually a joint venture between International Speedway Corp. and Jacoby Development, is planned to ultimately include up to 1.4 million square feet of retail, dining and entertainment areas, 660 hotel rooms, 2,500 theater seats, 1,350 residential units, 567,000 square feet of office space and up to 500,000 square feet of research and development space, according to Speedway sources. The complex will be built on property the Speedway already owns on 181 acres on the north side of International Speedway Boulevard.
Bass Pro Shops and Cobb Theaters have already signed on as major anchors for One Daytona.
Lenny Santiago, an ISC spokesman, said the project is expected to provide about 4,700 construction jobs, which he reported should add $583 million to the local economy.
Daytona Rising, according to the Speedway's projections, is expected to create 6,300 jobs, $300 million in labor income and more than $80 million in tax revenue.
Citing a Manpower Employment Survey, Speedway spokesmen report the project should be the principal source of job growth for the area during construction.
The area also will get a massive economic boost during construction of Daytona One.
According to ISC projections, the Daytona One businesses will employ more than 3,000 workers with an additional 1,200 permanent jobs added in connection with the complex. The project is expected to have a total economic impact of $369 million.
The project's representatives report the total net increase in tax revenue for the first year "should total approximately $1 million for the City of Daytona Beach and $900,000 for Volusia County."
The project is projected to generate more than $300 million in property tax assessments over a 30-year period.
Also, the businesses involved in the complex will contribute to the sales tax income and the local governments should receive increases in their share of the tax distribution as a result.
Since public schools receive funding from sales taxes as well, local schools are expected to benefit to the tune of up to $104 million from the sales tax -- as well as $104 million from their share of ad valorem property taxes.
Since the addition of residential units will be in the form of condos rather than single-family residential units, they aren't expected to add significantly to the school population, according to the Speedway projections.
All of which makes the public funding provided seem like a bargain -- as city and county officials have made clear.
In January, the city agreed to allow the One Daytona partners to establish a community development district, a special form of government complete with a board, charter and authority to collect tax dollars and sell tax-exempt bonds. There are a few other such districts in the county, which ultimately add to the local economy, as the Daytona One district should over time.