A Shift to the West: Deltona’s Growth Has Ignited the Region’s Focus on West Volusia
West Volusia continues to grow, first on an economy and lifestyle centered around agriculture that the rich farmlands provided and now through economic development. Perhaps no city in the area showcases that surge more than Deltona.
It began as a planned residential community called Deltona Lakes in 1962 and was primarily a commuter town to larger cities, notably Daytona Beach and Orlando. With an initial population of 1,600, Deltona grew to include commercial and industrial areas.
This growth attracted more folks, and the town was incorporated as a city in 1995. According to the 2020 census, 93,692 people live, play and work in Deltona, which at approximately 42 square miles is the largest city between Jacksonville and Orlando along the Interstates 4 and 95 corridors between those major cities.
The success of the city is measured in not only the number of new residents but also the number of new and redeveloped businesses and investments in infrastructure.
Over the last five years, Deltona has had a tremendous amount of new business growth,” says Jerry Mayes, the city’s economic development manager since 2011.
The Amazon facility includes 1.4 million square feet of space across 23 acres and employs 1,450 workers. Just to the south and east of Amazon is the Interstate 4 Logistics Park; the new building is a 1 million-square-foot logistics center.
“These are some of the big ones,” Mayes says. “Now we’re starting to get those specialty medical centers, clinics, and doctor’s offices coming into the city, based on the health services growth Deltona has experienced.”
Mayes is referring to developments like the Advent Health Free Standing Emergency Room, which opened in 2019 and the Halifax Health/University Florida Health Hospital, which opened in 2020, as well as the Advanced Cardiology Surgery Center, which opened early this year.
And Deltona is ready for more residents, too. Integra Myst apartments are under construction. Adjacent to the new Epic Theaters, the project is in phase one of a two-phased high-density apartment complex, with a total of 600 units.
Mayes says the city has always had the goals of good business retention and expansion.
“You’ll see it all around the city, like TD Bank down Providence Boulevard,” he says. “O’Reilly Auto Parts bought the location, tore down the bank and built its new automobile part service center there. It adds more growth for the city.”
Other redevelopment includes the new 24,000-square-foot Family Health Source, a medical provider in Deltona, which took over a former Winn-Dixie.
“This [project] offers both adult and pediatric health care and dentistry; it’s an area that has developed as a medical district within itself, one of several that we have throughout the city,” says Mayes.
He notes more redevelopment currently underway includes new retail development located at the former Bethune-Cookman Campus that will include restaurants and retail stores.
“When it comes to the municipal side of economic development within Deltona, we have many projects,” Mayes says.
“One of our larger projects involves freshwater intake at the Lakeshore Community Center. This project is taking fresh water from Lake Monroe, Saint Johns River, and pumping several miles up to the Alexander Rapid Infiltration Basin (RIB) facility.”
This project takes fresh water from the river and pumps it to the RIB site, putting it in the ground and allowing the water to percolate into the aquifer. In years to come, the water will resurface at Blue Springs, providing a valuable resource to the community.
In order to provide more educational opportunities and boost medical services, Mayes says Daytona State College will expand the campus in Deltona.
“It will facilitate the expansion of their nursing program, which is currently located at the Daytona Beach campus,” he says. “They will have openings for up to 99 students and will work in conjunction with high schools with high-level health service academies.”
Both Halifax Health/University of Florida and Advent Health are supportive of the project, the goal of which is to supply nurses to both organizations as well as to other healthcare facilities throughout the city.
“A smaller project is installing updated streetlights and solar-powered high-intensity flashing crosswalks at various locations throughout the city, updating to LED in the process,” Mayes says.
Better infrastructure gets folks out into nature.
“Deltona is becoming known as a nature-centric destination,” Mayes says. “We have developed nature viewing parks and continue to develop what we call the Butler Chain of Lakes Blueways Trail, a water trail for canoes and kayaks that is about 25 miles long.”
The land that once was covered with farmland and scrub pinelands that covered much of Central Florida now showcases new and expanded growth. The city is growing from within, too, bolstering infrastructure.
In less than 30 years since being incorporated as a city, Deltona has shifted Volusia’s focus further inland and further west and continues to do so.
Photos courtesy of Adlin Cabrera