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Automall plan adds retail bonanza

A new deal for West Volusia? — This rendering depicts the current proposed layout for the I-4 Automall, which may accommodate multiple dealerships and ancillary development such as retailers, restaurants, upscale offices, and perhaps a hotel. County planners say they do not yet know when the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission and the County Council will convene public hearings and vote on the Automall project.

A new deal for West Volusia? — This rendering depicts the current proposed layout for the I-4 Automall, which may accommodate multiple dealerships and ancillary development such as retailers, restaurants, upscale offices, and perhaps a hotel. County planners say they do not yet know when the Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission and the County Council will convene public hearings and vote on the Automall project.

GRAPHIC COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY PLANNING AND LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATION COMMISSION

THE FUTURE? — This rendering shows what one view of the proposed I-4 Automall — which will now include a multitude of retail facilities — might look like. 

THE FUTURE? — This rendering shows what one view of the proposed I-4 Automall — which will now include a multitude of retail facilities — might look like. 

GRAPHIC COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY PLANNING AND LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATION COMMISSION

The automotive bazaar planned at the interchange of Interstate 4 and Orange Camp Road, next to Victoria Park, continues to grow and evolve.

Revised filings for the I-4 Automall show a total of 13 automotive dealerships and a facility for receiving and distributing vehicles and parts, along with retail businesses, restaurants, office buildings, a hotel, and a convenience store with as many as 32 gas pumps. The automotive footprint, including the dealerships and distribution center, is planned at just more than 500,000 square feet.

The draft development agreement for the I-4 Automall calls for the new commercial village to spread over 55.6 acres, with its own roadway network. 

The agreement details the vision of Chrysler Jeep dealer Brendan Hurley and his attorney, Mark Watts, and is still under review by Volusia County planners. Watts could not be reached for comment.

“We have been working through some of the concepts,” Volusia County Growth and Resource Management Director Clay Ervin said. “If they are intensifying the project, they need to have a justification for that intensification.”

When the county’s Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission and the County Council may act upon the development request is not yet known. 

 

Laying the groundwork — literally

Before the Automall becomes a reality, the land use must be changed. The land eyed for the Automall consists of 16 parcels, currently with varied land uses and zoning. 

Hurley, as the developer, has formed a corporation known as I4 Automall LLC, and that company is assembling the properties with the intention of replatting them into a single tract.

Until that happens, county regulators are limited in what they can do to move the project forward. 

“We need all the data that they have that shows they have the authorization and proof of ownership,” Ervin said.

Some of the parcels now have a rural land use and agricultural zoning, while others have commercial land use and commercial zoning. I4 Automall LLC is asking the county to grant a commercial land-use designation to the combined parcel, as a necessary step toward rezoning the land for a business-planned-unit development (BPUD).

A land-use change requires amending the county’s comprehensive, or growth-management, plan. Adopted in 1990 under a state mandate, the plan sets the land uses of all real property within the county. Most land-use changes must be reviewed and approved by the County Council, the Volusia Growth Management Commission and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, before they become effective. 

 

What is in the plan?

The revised Automall proposal limits the number of dealerships to 13, each occupying a footprint of 33,020 square feet. 

Trading and selling cars will be allowed 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, according to the written plan. 

The dealerships’ inventories of vehicles and parts are to be supplied from a centralized distribution center that could be as tall as 60 feet.  

“Automotive service operations shall be limited to the hours of 7 a.m.-11 p.m. for the general public. Automotive service for fleet vehicles may be performed at other times, provided they occur in an enclosed service area to minimize noise,” the document notes.

Other parcels within the Automall tract are to be set aside for retail stores and restaurants, as well as banks, offices and carwashes. One parcel would be reserved for a convenience store with a maximum of 32 fueling spaces. The name “Wawa” appears on one of the planning documents. 

“We’re moving to make sure it’s consistent with our comp plan and consistent with our codes,” Ervin said. 

A parcel designated as Lot 5 would allow as much as “60,000 square feet of office space over retail,” or “the alternative, up to 90 hotel rooms.” A hotel, if built, would also be permitted to have “restaurants, bars and spas that are accessory to the principal use.” 

 

The new deal?

The Automall proposal also revives a transportation element the County Council scrapped several years ago: adding a frontage road along Interstate 4. 

The concept plan shows this service road along a portion of Interstate 4 that would lie within the Automall property and would provide easier access for trucks coming into and going out of the commercial complex, especially trucks with cargoes to be offloaded at the distribution center. 

The draft development agreement also sets buffering requirements for the Automall to offset or lessen the project’s effects on homeowners in Victoria Park and other residential neighborhoods nearby, who have voiced strong objections. One provision calls for buffers of 25 feet to 40 feet in width, “or more.” 

Lighting is also to be controlled. One point in the Automall development agreement uses the term “curfew” for a time when lighting intensity would be reduced.

Specifically, “All internal site lighting shall be reduced by 50% after 11 p.m. until sunrise.”

Ervin said the county still has some concerns about setbacks, lighting and buffers.

The Automall was first unveiled in February, when Hurley sought a BPUD zoning for about 27 acres on the north side of Orange Camp Road, next to Victoria Park. 

To allay concerns about the Automall’s effect on Victoria Park, the development agreement requires the project’s owners to “be responsible for maintaining all common areas in a manner and to standards that are comparable to maintenance standards maintained by the adjacent Victoria Park development.”

— Al Everson, al@beacononlinenews.com


Land use and zoning are not the same

Under Florida law, land use denotes the general character of a piece of property and the general types of activity and intensity to be permitted.

Zoning is more specific; it describes particular construction and activities to be allowed on the property. State law requires the zoning to fit the land use.

For example, land with a rural or conservation land use cannot have commercial zoning. Nor may local authorities permit residential land to be developed into an industrial park — unless the land use permits it.

Until 2010, a land-use change was required before a zoning change was allowed under a different land use, such as rezoning property with a rural land use for a new shopping center.

Now, however, a city or county may rezone property whose land use does not provide for the desired zoning, subject to the land use being changed before development takes place.


 

"Located adjacent to the highly traveled Interstate 4 in DeLand just north of Lake Helen, its distinctive architecture will become a recognizable landmark, while its parklike setting will create an attractive gateway into the cities of Lake Helen and DeLand, and an inviting transition to the adjacent communities.”

— From the draft development agreement for the I-4 Automall

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