Change is coming? Don’t hold your breath. . .

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.”

Clearly, Heraclitus never called the Halifax area home. . . 

The Daytona Beach Resort Area has long suffered from a lack of civic vision – a decades old identity crisis framed by competing images of a free-for-all honky-tonk beer bash and an idyllic family friendly beachside vacation spot. 

It’s neither.

The fact is, beyond “special events” or a day at our overregulated beach, there simply isn’t much to do here.   

For instance, a cursory internet search for “Things to do in Daytona Beach with Kids,” includes fun excursions like, The Daytona Beach Flea and Farmers Market, Tanger Outlets, “Beach Street,” the Volusia Mall, and Ritchey Plaza. . . 

How about taking the kids to the world-famous Boardwalk (#8 on the list)? 

Been down there lately?  Me neither. . . 

Last week, the age-old debate of how to resuscitate our decomposing core tourist area was rekindled – this time by Duane Winjum, the latest general manager of The Plaza Resort – the 110-year-old Grande Dame of Daytona Beach hotels at the intersection of Seabreeze Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.

I always find it bittersweet when a newcomer to our area sees the malignant blight and dilapidation, fetid byproducts of the economic stagnation that has plagued areas of our community for decades, and announce they are going to “do something” about it.  

Their hearts are in the right place – and those who come here from areas where things are ‘happening’ – naturally question why that same civic exuberance and pride in place cannot catch here.

And we hope against hope that things will be different this time.    

That something – anything – will change. . .

Recently, the owners and management of The Plaza scored a small, but significant, victory when they successfully got Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry off his ass and on the street to meet some folks that he was totally unfamiliar with – his constituents. 

In December, Mayor Henry joined Bob Davis, president of the Lodging & Hospitality Association, and Jonathan Abraham Eid, CEO of Vienna Capital, the Los Angeles based investment group that owns The Plaza, to get some dust on the wingtips during a walking tour of “Party Central” on Seabreeze Boulevard. 

According to an excellent article by reporter Jim Abbott in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Envisioning a Renaissance,” some Seabreeze business owners were excited to meet Mayor Henry for the first time and seized the rare opportunity to share their thoughts on how to improve things – while another felt like an afterthought “…we’re forgotten over here a lot.  We don’t seem to get any of the attention.”

Astute observations by long-suffering beachside merchants who stand like street urchins, gazing across the filthy Seabreeze bridge at the millions-of-dollars in public funds being lavished on all the right last names for the “revitalization” of Beach Street, as they lament, “What are we, chopped liver?”

On Sunday, News-Journal editor Pat Rice used his weekly column to tout Mr. Winjum’s enthusiasm – while quelling persistent rumors that strategic rot has been used to drive beachside property values into the basement bargain bin (like the tactic employed in Downtown Daytona) making local waterfront properties among the cheapest (yet least desirable) anywhere on the east coast of the United States.  

According to Mr. Rice, “Unfortunately, there is no conspiracy. The core beachside’s sorry state is largely a result of local government neglect.”   

That is true – but why?

To whose benefit?

I mean, what kind of person would force their neighbors to live in squalor to pull off a profit?   

I happen to agree with Mr. Rice’s assessment that both the City of Daytona Beach and Volusia County have failed to put the necessary effort into establishing a blueprint for the revitalization of our challenged beachside and beyond.

I also agree that “revitalizing Seabreeze Boulevard could be a catalyst for Daytona’s struggling core beachside.”

So could a wrecking ball and bulldozer. . .

But that is going to take more than idle chat – it will require a complete transformation at City Hall – redevelopment efforts that reclaim empty windows, focus on infill, and build vibrant streetscapes that attract and retain businesses and residents. 

Let’s face it, the list of those who have accepted public funds then dashed our hopes on the rocks of incompetency, crushed the dreams of entrepreneurial investors, erected bureaucratic obstructions, regulated anything fun out of business, or turned their backs when small business needed help is long and distinguished. 

So please excuse me if I do not share Mr. Winjum’s high expectations for the rebirth of Seabreeze Boulevard. 

It is a noble effort, but we have seen it all before. . . 

Change comes slow in these parts – and sometimes it never comes at all.

10 thoughts on “Change is coming? Don’t hold your breath. . .

  1. In 1999 we moved to Florida from Ohio we lived on A1A close to what was then the Hilton and the overpass there. I just fell in love with the Shores, how everything was nicely kept up. I felt safe, the police always made their presence known and you could walk on the beach or on the road and never worry. I still to this day, don’t understand why the Shores is so different from two or three miles up the road where Daytona is turning into something like Holly Hill. Why can’t the leaders of Daytona Beach Central meet with the leaders of Daytona Beach Shores and figure out how to solve their problems. It can’t be that difficult. One of the most frustrating things for me, is watching them destroy Beach Street, which was finally flourishing, again to remake that road. What a waste of money AGAIN!

    Like

  2. Another week folks.
    The beachside compared to other “east coast” beachside cities, well, no comparison. Downright depressing. Blame the mayor, city council, local citizen groups, those entities are tasked with setting a vision.
    Couple that with various local myoptic organizations who champion beach driving, Bike week and Biketoberfest (absentee landlords 49 weeks of the year) and you have your cause of beachside blight.

    The State offered you a brand new roundabout and you chose to reject their offer. You daytona citizens are too set in your ways. Who would wan to develop and remove blight in your city?
    Daytona City offices have 12 code enforcement inspectors. I have never known a small city to have so many code enforcement officers with little effectiveness.
    On A1A, two high rise buildings being constructed, and all many citizens do is berate the developers instead of thanking them for investing. You citizens call them “russians”. Totally disrespectful.
    The City spent millions on improvements to midtown Beach Dr., such a waste.
    The new Brown & Brown building architecture does not fit into and is in direct contradict with typical beachside architecture.
    Bethune Cookman Univ. adds nothing to the economy of the region, unlike other colleges located in other Florida cities.

    I could go on and on, no point.
    So much potential and so little vision & leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark I totally agree with your comments but although I think Bethune Cookman is a cluster and does not help our economy we have Embry-Riddle who has a much higher standard than Bethune but unless a college has a giant football team seen every week on TV it wont help the economy as I had my college years in NYC with no football teams.Mostly local kids who had parents who helped and we worked and went to school.I really saw myself going no where in a marketing degree and dropped out and did very well in a trade with a union.Just have one more thing .Today is Presidents Day honoring Washington and Lincoln as San Francisco takes their name off schools.Daytona does have redeeming values.We also dont have a mayor who can personally take responsibility for 15.000 plus deaths of nursing home patients of which 7000 were hidden until last week and should be fired and more.

      Like

  3. Mark I read the Pat Rice column on Saturday that had the first paragraph say that he and his wife have not been to Seabreeze for more than five years .We have a problem Rice why did you wait so long to write what Derrick Henry and his friends really dont give a shit about many people other than Beat Kahli and Mori Hooseini.I live in Ormond and it is embarrasing that when we have out of town visitors come here and we must go to Ruths Chris in Lake Mary.DAYTONA is OLD.Fine dining is rare and we are a county of franchise restaurants and visitors who love Cracker Barrel at the Speedway.Nothing will ever change in the near future.We came from Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter area and fine dining was everywhere and it did not look or feel like Coney Island.Spent our honeymoon in 1972 at Disney and here .Lots of things happened in Orlando but Daytona is stagnent except for LPGA and I-95.We are becoming the city of rental communities , shopping centers and expensive homes and nothing to do but watch TV.Pat Rice your paper is very stale too because it is now Gannett and all its 200 rags it bought plus USA TODAY for anything national.By the way many of you out there are off today.Have yet to see any of the local cable news shows this morning mention today is Presidents Day.You and your kids lives depend on who ever is President.Happy Presidents Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no ‘Fine Dining’ to be found in the greater Daytona area, period.
      Development along the 95 and LPGA corridor is bland at best, chain restaurants, an outside mall, huge gas station/convenience stores, gigantic auto mall and high priced apartments, not a single dollar spent to improve quality of life here.

      Like

  4. I bought a house in foreclosure on the beachside of Daytona Beach in 2012. Living there, I heard the “conspiracy theories” about deliberate neglect by the city to drive down the price of beachside properties so the wealthy could scoop them up. If that theory was true, beachside would be awash today with wealthy residents and new homes, because beachside property will NEVER be as cheap again as it was after the crash of 2008. So how do you explain the derelict properties, zoning corruption, rampant drug use, crime? I’ve concluded the “big money” families (think the France family of NASCAR and others) WANT it that way. There’s a deliberate “all others” mentality; a bikers/monster truck/red neck/ anti-culture marketing of “Dirtona Beach”. Remember the disgusting “Wide Open Fun” promotion???? Who does that appeal to?
    So you have cheap, dirty hotels, the lowest paying jobs of ANY beachside community in America, addicts shooting-up at the 7-11, piss-poor graduation statistics, and slumlords allowed to profit from it all.
    I sold my beachside home, made a nice profit and moved EVERY dollar of it to another state. I admire the courage of the friends I left behind. But I’m convinced city, county and state government officials want Daytona Beach EXACTLY the way it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just ask any full time beachside resident near Seabreeze and they could tell you what is wrong but no one is asking and residents are tired of the same story…regardless of who tells it….

    Like

  6. As a lifetime resident of Volusia County it pains me to say that Daytona Beach is the worse shape that I’ve ever seen it. Plain and simple folks the Mayor and the City Manager have hit the pinnacle of their abilities. Sadly people keep voting that clown mayor into office. The people who can start the recovery process are you the voters..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Mayor and the City Manager couldn’t grow weeds in cow manure, never mind growing a family friendly beachside for residents and visitors!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s