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Now browsing: Hometown News > Business & Finance > Volusia County

Business' big picture is looking better
Rating: 2.56 / 5 (32 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Oct 12 - 00:01

By Cecil G. Brumley

For Hometown News

It could hardly be confused with the breakneck pace of the past, but overall business is improving in Volusia County when you look at the big picture.

As evidence, you can look at the amount of activity in commercial and residential development throughout the county. From national chains to mom and pop, new businesses are opening with something new every week somewhere in Volusia land.

That's not to say there aren't some big sores that will take a long time to heal. There are way too many white elephants left behind with Food Lion and Kmart shutting down stores this year. There also are a lot of empty storefronts on just about every main business thoroughfare. Many businesses are still struggling, even big ones like International Speedway Corp.

But if you follow this column and the little tidbits I pass along, you'll notice there's something happening here.


Speaking of ISC, the big racetrack operator reported a loss of about $1 million in its fiscal third quarter. Part of it was due to the scheduling of races, but the company is still not filling the seats as much as in the past. On the local scene, ISC officials indicated in an analysts' conference that its Daytona Live project could go forward, even if it doesn't sell its albatross known as the Staten Island property.


Elbert Land Co. of Lake Mary has bought the abandoned Preserve at Sugar Mill subdivision for $595,000 from Capstone Resdev LLC. Dowd Properties of Celebration and Hendricks & Partners negotiated the sale on behalf of Capstone Resdev. The 208-lot subdivision at Pioneer Trail and Turnbull Bay Road, just east of Interstate 95, has already gone through some of the zoning changes and permits it needs, but it is still a long way from ready to build on.


Another group wants to resurrect the Marshside project in Ormond Beach in the northwest corner of Airport and Tymber Creek roads west of I-95. The group has bought land adjacent to the original development and wants to combine it into a 163-lot subdivision.


Exit Realty of Daytona Beach has expanded its real estate sales center at 3162 S. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach Shores. Aswin Suri, Exit president, said he plans to host a grand opening in November to showcase the newly expanded 3,000-square-foot sales center. Mr. Suri said he is expanding his sales staff and is going outside Florida to increase his multi-family residential operations. He eventually expects to have 40 sales and property management associates in the Shores office.


Mississippi Gulf Coast-based Hancock Bank has bought the bank building it occupies at 920 Saxon Boulevard in Orange City for $1.46 million from the FDIC. Hancock moved into the area by taking over Peoples First Community Bank in December 2009. So far it only has one office in Volusia, though.


The Shoppes at Beville in Daytona Beach took quite a hit during the recession with Blockbuster Video closing and then losing Play it Again Sports. But the shopping center at Beville and Clyde Morris Boulevard is slowly filling back up. Humana already has taken up quite a bit of space and now a Miracle Ear outlet has opened there, said Sam Jaffe, vice president of shopping center owner Jaffe Corp.


Taxable retail sales were up 5.4 percent in July from July 2011, according to statistics from the state Department of Revenue. Just about every retail sector showed gains, except grocery stores. But a huge gain for general merchandise stores shows more of the grocery business has shifted to Target and Walmart. Building supplies also continued to drag, but were about the same as the year before.


Claims for unemployment compensation dropped to 1,600 in September, from 1,914 in September 2011, the lowest amount since November 2007. While it definitely means employers are laying off or dismissing fewer employees, we'll have to wait a while to see if it also means there are more jobs available out there.

Employment definitely was up in the first quarter in Volusia, according to a separate report from the state labor department. The Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages, which is based on reports from employers paying unemployment insurance premiums, shows the county had 150,355 jobs compared to 149, 145 in the first quarter of 2011. Wages were down slightly at $33,284 (on an annualized basis) compared to the quarterly average of $33,857 in the first quarter of last year. Of course, there are more low-wage workers employed during the special events of Speed Weeks and Bike Week during the first quarter, so it's not a good comparison to the level for the whole year.


Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. has added another property to its portfolio, buying the land under a Wild Wings in Phoenix, Ariz., for $1.8 million. Wild Wings has a long-term land use lease on the property.

Associated Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business in Volusia County for more than 15 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsol.com or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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