Tourism in Volusia County has come roaring back with bed tax collections up 517.25% in April from the nearly non-existent travel in April 2020.

The rebound that started in March as the Covid-19 pandemic started to wane, carried over into April with all three market areas, Halifax Area, Southeast Volusia and West Volusia all up sharply.

Much of it has been led by big special events, such as Bike Week, Spring Break and Jeep Beach, but beach tourists and eco-tourists also seem to be pouring into the area.

But collections also were also up nearly 29% from April 2019, which might help explain why hotel developers have picked up the pace.

Some of the projects in the pipeline are the Hyatt Place Hotel on the riverfront in New Smyrna Beach, Holiday Inn Express interchange hotels at New Smyrna and Port Orange, and an Extended Stay America in Deltona.

The biggest project, which looks like it’s about half complete and partially open, is still the Protogroup’s Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condos. There also are three sizable redevelopment projects with the La Playa redevelopment to Choice Hotels brands at 2500 N. Atlantic Ave. and the Ocean Club becoming a Marriott Renaissance Hotel at 640 N. Atlantic, both in Daytona Beach, and the Daytona Beach Shores Hotel becoming a Rushhh Hotel, part of the Hilton Tapestries Collection at 2323 S. Atlantic.

But possibly the most interesting project is the Nest Treehouse Resort, which is in Lake County, but has a DeLand address. It includes 50 treehouse hotel units, an arrival dock, boat house, arrival lounge, bus turn-around / guest unloading, playground, pool/cafe, guest-only restaurant/reception, restaurant deck. activity and environmental education center, kayak and canoe rental, hanging garden sky temple yoga pavilion, single treatment room spa, lookout tower and writer’s nook. It will be interesting to see if it gets built.

Whether we’ll see any new hotels open for the rest of 2021 is doubtful, but in 2022 we’ll see a lot of them.

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Not much commercial real estate deals to report as the clerk’s office remains way behind on posting deed recordings. Newport Beach, Calif., investor bought the Walmart Neighborhood Market-anchored shopping center at 955 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand for about $9.6 million. Creighton Construction & Development of Ft. Myers bought the land for a 7-Eleven store at Coastal Woods in New Smyrna Beach for $1.8 million, and has started construction. Silvestri Investments bought the vacant land along Beville Road, just west of the Circle K and north of Andros Isles apartments for $410,000.

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Some new developments include a 635,800 square foot industrial warehouse on a 111-acre parcel south of Bellevue Business Park near Daytona Beach International Airport. Buildout would be by 2023. Two residential projects in Port Orange are getting revamped. Madeline Commons is dropping from 254 townhouses and single-family houses to 152 single-family houses. Bennet's Hammock is going from 13 townhouses to six single-family lots. Huge, 3-story storage building proposed at 295 Interchange Blvd. in Ormond Beach. Plans progressing for the Crossings, a mixed-use development at Kentucky Avenue and SR 472 in Orange City with six lots, and could include hotel. Plans also are progressing for the final section of Venetian Bay, Phase 6 of the Palms, with 174 single-family lots along SR 44 (with buffer zone).

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Some new retail includes a Family Dollar Store going into Deltona Plaza at 1200 Deltona Blvd. A Rainbow apparel shop is going into Volusia Mall. Action sports clothing seller Zumiez is putting a store in the Tanger Factory Outlet Center in Daytona Beach.

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On a final note, Wawa is joining an already crowded jobs market (partially because of its existing stores), hiring for its new store at 1900 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach. It also will begin hiring soon for its new store at Mason Avenue and Nova Road.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 24 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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