Not everyone’s keen about Midtown Lofts

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Plans are moving forward on luxury units on MLK Boulevard.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

A plan for construction of a luxury apartment complex on the east side of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK Boulevard) in Daytona Beach is catching flak.

Above is a rendering of the exterior of the proposed Midtown Lofts in Daytona Beach.
Above is a rendering of the exterior of the proposed Midtown Lofts in Daytona Beach.

The project is part of a plan to revitalize Midtown, a historically Black community in the city.
Midtown Lofts is slated to be erected on the east side of MLK Boulevard between Cherry and El Dorado Streets. Initial plans call for 82 one-, two-, and three-bedroom luxury units.

The complex will be the first phase of a three-phase project, which would develop the east side of MLK almost to International Avenue. The project would eventually bring in more retail and other businesses.

“All that I can say is that outside of Bethune-Cookman University this is the best opportunity for growth in the cores of our community that we have ever had in the history of Midtown,” Mayor Derrick Henry told the Daytona Times this week.

Sept. 7 vote
After much discussion at a special Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting on Sept. 7, the Daytona Beach City Commission voted unanimously (7-0) to amend a proposal for Midtown Lofts with Heron Development Group LTD of Boca Raton.

The amended vote removed incentives of $538,000 toward soft costs. Soft cost is a construction industry term but more specifically a contractor accounting term for an expense item that is not considered direct construction cost.

Soft costs include architectural, engineering, financing, and legal fees, and other pre-and post-construction expenses. It also removed an additional $75,000 in incentives for land acquisition.

Moving forward
Construction costs for the project are estimated at 10 to $15 million with a creation of between 50 to 100 temporary construction jobs. The Midtown Lofts could create 10 to 20 permanent jobs.

The city has agreed to the use of public funds up to $409,622. That includes $400,000 for stormwater and parking improvements east of the project.

Midtown Redevelopment funds are available. Each year, the Midtown Redevelopment Fund CRA is at $400,000.

“We accepted an agreement that was presented and talked about. It wasn’t the best agreement, but it is one that we can accept and move forward,” said Hemis Ivey, a local resident, businessman and consultant for the project.

“This will start the revitalization of Midtown. You see growth all across the city.  Midtown must also bring in growth. We must revitalize the community, bring up living standards, wipe out crime and drugs, end blight.’’

‘Moving too fast’
During the meeting, opponents voiced their concerns, especially residents who were skeptical of how fast the item got on the agenda.

“If it’s a good fit now, it will be in six months and in a year. This is moving too fast. We want a development in Midtown; it’s critical but this isn’t it. Forty percent of working families are homeless and can’t find an affordable place to live. Why not ask the developer to make at least 25 percent of that demographic?’’ asked Ava Ruby.

Lindsay Smiley agreed. “This is being pushed through too fast. High-end housing is the last thing needed for Midtown. Midtown needs development. Every time some developer comes here we are ready to just throw our money away at them.”

Pastor Mike Pastore weighed in. “I’m not anti-Midtown. My issue with the city is the same. It’s the homeless issue. This just does not pass the smell test. This was put on the agenda too fast. Too many carpetbaggers come here wanting to make money and shove something like this down our noses.’’

Eager for improvements
On the other hand, supporters of the development seem eager to see improvements in the community.

“I have been a resident on MLK (Boulevard) since 1953, said Gwendolyn Smith, 68. “I have seen a lot of things come and go, but never return. I wish a lot could be better, especially the lighting. I would love to see this before I am 70.”

Kim Brown-Crawford added, “I was born and raised in Midtown. I believe that as long as I lived that I am not aware of at least one developer that wanted to invest money in Midtown. I was in a restaurant in the area the other day. I looked to the north, west, east and south. All that I saw was blight. I applaud whoever takes investment in our community.’’

The next step is for the developer to put in an application for the development.

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