The City of DeLand is one step closer to creating new life from the former county jail property and two adjacent parking areas gained in a land swap with Volusia County.

“One of the things that made this extremely difficult for the selection committee is that we had one proposal that was for renovation and keeping a significant part of the old jail, and the other two were to tear down and rebuild,” said DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar. “Before we had the interviews, we did send out a series of questions and with that we had a lot of discussion and collectively came to the ranking.”

Out of three timely proposals, the Community Redevelopment Agency ranked the proposals for the 130 Georgia Ave. property, based on numerous criteria at the regular meeting Dec. 17 in DeLand, before passing it along for approval to the DeLand City Commission meeting Dec. 18.

Much planning and research went into the selection, a process that began in July, said Rick Werbiskis, community development director for the city.

“We did receive three complete and timely submittals from Deltran Operations USA Inc., Conrad Realty Company and E2L,” Mr. Werbiskis said. “We did develop a master plan for the Georgia Avenue area and we were looking to see how close the proposals came in meeting the goals of that master plan.”

The plan includes adding new types of spaces while increasing the number of existing usages within the downtown area.

“We're also looking at a mixture of uses. One of our goals has been to get some residential (units) in our downtown area, including artist's lofts,” Mr. Werbiskis said. “Also, we want to see a mixture that builds upon what currently exists, so that we diversify our downtown in order to ensure that it is sustainable for the long term.”

In addition to the mix of uses, company strengths and weaknesses were assessed as well as the “green aspect” of each proposal, including water-wise landscaping, energy conservation and public transportation elements, he said.

In the end, Deltran Operations ranked first among the committee members and maintained that ranking with the City Commission.

“Deltran Operations did include a number of mixed uses. It was the clearest in terms of its alignment with our master plan. They had a good mix of design elements and were very flexible in noting that they could relocate various elements,” Mr. Werbiskis said. “They included artist lofts and incubator space and it was a phased project, so it wasn't an all-in-one project, which adds to the overall flexibility. They are asking for the city to demolish the building and asbestos abatement on the property.”

The project has several more steps to conquer before becoming a downtown reality, city officials said.

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