With all the residential construction going on, it’s hard to believe Volusia County’s economy really hasn’t been booming in 2019.

The hospitality industry has hit an autumn lull with October bed tax collections down 2.6% from October 2018, according to the Volusia Division of Revenue. The Halifax area and Southeast Volusia were down, but West Volusia was up. For the year, bed tax collections are up a tiny 1.2%.

The recently released second quarter census of employment and wages showed the number of jobs in Volusia at 173,795, up a scant .8% from the second quarter of 2018, according to the report from the state labor agency. The bright spot, though, was average wages were at $41,412, up 3.4%, outpacing inflation, which was at 1.9% in the second quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As you probably have heard many times by now, the problem isn’t that jobs aren’t available. It’s that workers aren’t available, especially for skilled jobs. But then the slowdown in the hospitality industry doesn’t bode well for unskilled labor, either.

There is some good news as B. Braun has decided to renovate and expand its facilities on Mason Avenue, which could mean another 250 jobs. But that just offsets the 295 jobs that will be lost at Costa del Mar. By the way, I mentioned in my last column that I hadn’t seen a WARN notice filed with the state and then the day after last week’s edition went to print, the notice showed up. The layoffs at the sunglasses maker begin Feb. 7.

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Lots of interesting stuff happening out there, led by this deed recording filed last Friday. Joshua P. Bratter, a Miami lawyer, and his wife, Samantha Bratter, director of operations for his law firm, have bought the former Sears property at Volusia Mall for $4.8 million. I won’t be able to provide any other details this week, but I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled. (As it turns out, this is incorrect. The Bratter's entity is SRB Holdings Inc., but the sub-entity of the buyer, SRB Daytona LLC, is SRB Holdings LLC. The only SRB Holdings LLC listed on the Secretary of State's website is inactive, so at this point, I don't know who bought the Sears building.)

In other commercial real estate news, two New Jersey brothers, under the entity Daytona Brothers Realty, bought the new dialysis clinic building in front of the News-Journal on Nova Road in Daytona for $3.324 million. Lendcore Development of Ponte Vedra Beach sold part of a development site along Marsh Road, north of East International Speedway Boulevard, in DeLand to Forestar Real Estate Group for $1.728 million and part to D.R. Horton for $648,000. Winter Garden investor has bought the Cambridge Court Apartments, 325 8th St., Holly Hill, for $875,000.

And we found out what Daytona Beach-based Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. would do with part of the $97 million it got for the rest of its vacant land in the area, buying The Strand, a 212,000-square-foot shopping center in Jacksonville, anchored by Hobby Lobby and Best Buy, for $62.7 million. The Strand is 95% occupied.

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Another attention grabber is a Georgia developer is proposing 240 apartments on an oceanfront site in the 1200 block of North Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach. The development name is Silver Hills.

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A couple of smaller items include Jersey Mike’s Subs going into Tomoka Town Center and A Fresh New Me, a medical spa, going into Shoppes at One Daytona at 1808 West ISB.

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We’ll have a separate article in some editions this week, but I have to mention on a final note the Avalon Park Group/sitEX, which set the standard for mixed-use developments with its Avalon Park in Orlando, agreeing to buy 2,500 acres for a new Avalon Park in Daytona Beach on land that was meant for the second half of Latitude Margaritaville and a development ICI Homes had planned to do, but now is not.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 22 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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