The Deltona Transformation

 Deltona's Transformation: A Vision for a Vibrant Downtown District

DELTONA, Fla. - Deltona, traditionally known for its residential character and lack of commercial infrastructure, is on the cusp of a significant transformation. Spearheading this change is Mayor Santiago Avila, who envisions a future where Deltona boasts three bustling entertainment districts. This ambitious plan aims to redefine the city’s identity and provide residents with vibrant spaces to live, work, and play.

“We’re all residential... We had no commerce,” Mayor Avila remarked, highlighting the need for change. His vision includes creating three downtown areas filled with shops, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment venues. Early plans have already attracted interest from vendors like Panda Express and Starbucks. "It would be amazing to have a place where families, friends, and neighbors can gather and have a good time," said local resident Yorelis Navas. However, some concerns remain about the impact of new construction on local greenery.

The development plans are still in their infancy, with a multi-year timeline and many details yet to be finalized. Mayor Avila’s vote carries equal weight among the six other city commissioners, making collaboration crucial. The overarching goal is to expand Deltona’s identity beyond its residential roots and create spaces where residents can enjoy leisure activities without leaving the city.

“I'm excited about the possibility of our residents coming together and Deltona being defined by our people and communities, not by what we lack,” Mayor Avila shared.

The Vision: Three Downtowns for One Deltona

Long perceived as a retirement town with no commercial core, Deltona is poised to become a vibrant metro-marketplace under Mayor Avila’s leadership. Just months after being elected as the mayor of Volusia County's largest city and the second-largest city in East Central Florida, Avila is unveiling his ambitious dream for Deltona’s future.

“We have not had a vision. I want to create a vision,” Avila told The Beacon. While previous leaders have discussed establishing a downtown commercial core, Avila proposes creating three distinct retail centers.

“I definitely want to see the One Deltona concept on Deltona Boulevard,” he stated. This would be West Volusia’s counterpart to the One Daytona shopping and dining attraction near Daytona International Speedway.

Planned Commercial Centers: Uptown and Downtown

Avila envisions additional commercial centers at strategic locations along Howland Boulevard. One would be near the Howland interchange with Interstate 4, and the other near the intersection with State Road 415. These centers would not compete with the long-planned Deltona Village, a mixed-use development by Frank DeMarsh, but rather complement it by providing more retail and entertainment options for the city’s nearly 100,000 residents.

DeMarsh’s project aims to transform over 160 undeveloped acres into a vibrant merchandising hub. Meanwhile, Avila has drawn inspiration from DeBary’s Main Street center proposal, which integrates shops, stores, and offices with residential spaces above them. “I want to see employers with shops on the ground floor and residential renters above,” Avila noted, emphasizing the potential for a dynamic, mixed-use environment where residents and businesses thrive together.

Financial Viability and Community Support

One of the most pressing questions is funding. “How are we going to pay for this?” Mayor Avila often hears. His answer is straightforward: “Developers are going to pay for this.” Avila believes that the city government can provide the necessary guidance and attract investors and developers to create the marketplace that Deltonans currently seek in neighboring cities like Orange City, DeLand, or Sanford.

Despite the ambitious nature of his plan, Mayor Avila is optimistic about its feasibility. “I’m one piece of a pie of seven,” he said, referring to the seven-member City Commission. “The city manager is excited.” His vision for Deltona is bold, aiming to redefine the city’s identity and foster a sense of community through well-planned commercial and residential spaces.

As Deltona embarks on this transformative journey, the city stands at the brink of a new era, promising a future where commerce and community coexist harmoniously.

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