Daytona Beach, FL – A Volusia County-owned building whose doors have been closed since Hurricane Irma flooded it a year ago will be torn down and rebuilt after it was formally declared a total loss.
During yesterday’s (September 4th) Volusia County Council meeting, council members voted 6-1 in favor of that plan for the administration building at 250 North Beach Street in downtown Daytona Beach, formerly the home of various county services, including the offices of the tax collector and property appraiser. The State of Florida also used to provide vehicle license tags at that location.
The decision was made after the VCC went over a consultant’s report which estimated that fixing the current building and bringing it back up to current code would likely cost the county around $5.4 million. That included raising the entire building up around five inches to help prevent future storm flooding.
Some VCC members felt it made more fiscal sense to go with a brand new building, especially with around $7 million coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of the damage the old building sustained from Irma. Another $6 million will be paid by the county’s insurance carrier, Brown & Brown, who will begin construction soon on its new 10-story Daytona Beach headquarters in what’s currently an empty car lot just to the north of the admin building.
In making this move, the VCC turned down an alternative plan to use 90% of the FEMA money for other budgeted capital projects with the agency’s approval. That option could have meant no insurance money available for the new project and left the county looking for a permanent home for all the offices which used to be there and have since moved to various locations.
District 4 Representative Heather Post was the lone “no” vote. During an in-studio appearance today (September 5th) on WNDB’s Marc Bernier Show, Post said her objection was based on concerns over what she called “low” staffing levels in the county’s emergency services and she felt the money would be better used to get the county up to a “minimal acceptable standard” in that area.
When construction will begin is in question, especially since FEMA still owes the county millions of dollars in hurricane-related costs. The new building would need to be designed and approved first.
During the meeting, George Recktenwald – the interim County Manager – mentioned it’s a possibility that the new building could be tied in to a possible expansion of the nearby S. James Foxman Justice Center on U.S. 1, including possibly placing the new building further back from Beach and closer to North Palmetto Avenue opposite from the justice center.