Clock ticking on proposed beachside hotel for New Smyrna Beach

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(Photos by Dale Smith). In the larger photo, David Swentor, developer of the proposed 112-room Hampton Inn on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, addresses the City Commission, with attorney Glenn Storch by his side, implores officials to grant him an additional six months to secure funding, saying his project was negatively impacted by the city's planning debacle. In the smaller photo, City Commissioner and Mayor Adam Barringer, along with Commissioners Judy Reiker and Lynne Plaskett, vote to meet him half way with a three-month extension. Commissioner Jim Hathaway opposes any extension at all. 

Here is a link to one of the earlier stories on the planning debacle that broke:

Editor's note: The following story was submitted by contributing writer Dale Smith:

NEW SMYRNA BEACH – The develops can look at their plight following Tuesday's decision by the City Commission as a glass half full or half empty.

Regardless, the commission voted 4 to 1 to grant the developer of the proposed 112-room Hampton Inn on Flagler Avenue three months to come up with financing for the project to become reality instead of the six months asked.

South Carolina-based developer David Swentor had no choice, but to make his plea for more time with the initial deadline for financing set to expire Jan. 26. The three-month reprive granted Tuesday means the final deadline is April 26.

Swentor reminded officials of their planning department debacle that came to light lastlast fall affecting dozens of large- and small-scale projects, worth tens of millions of dollars because of the city's planning debacle; a situation where final paperwork was never sent to the state for final consideration.

Among the projects was the hotel, which could not move forward until the state Department of Community Affairs had a chance to review it.

Swentor and his attorney, Glenn Storch, had already been given the blessing of the Community Redevelopment Agency for a six-month extension. Swentor and Storch said they were on track to finalize the financing and believed they could actually begin construction during the first quarter of 2011.

Swentor said he asked for six months because that was the amount of time he believed he lost during the city’s problem with the comp plan and DCA; but vice mayor Jim Hathaway took issue with that and was the only dissenter when the vote was cast.

“If in six months the project has not started, will we be looking at another extension?” Hathaway asked. “If not, we need to re-think our position.”

Mayor Adam Barringer was also concerned with a six-month extension, instead offering compromise at three months:. “We were supposed to have a closing by Jan. 26. The commission embraced the hotel project. What’s going to happen in six months? We’ll have egg on our face.”

At left, resident Dennis Mitchell describes the hotel development as a "failed project."

Dennis Mitchell, a new homeowner in New Smyrna Beach, said he came to the city for its quality of life, but questioned why the hotel was even considered on Flagler.

“I have no issues with the developer,” Mitchell said. “But what I’ve seen, this is a failed project. I’m joining forces with the other Florida Avenue residents in opposing the extension.”

Resident John Shelby questioned the commission as to why the meeting on the extension was vetted without public participation, adding in part: “I think we need to give the public the right to speak on this item before you allow an extension."

Swentor received support from resident Bob Tolley when he said given what the developer has gone through over the last two-plus years trying to get this hotel built, “he deserves the extra time; that is unless he’s a masochist.”


About the contributing writer:

Dale Smith is a resident of New Smyrna Beach, who has reported on local news in Volusia County since October 2009.  His writing background includes a mix of journalism and public relations in several community newspapers and a p.r. firm in northern Virginia. He attended Barton Academy in Barton, Vt., and the Cambridge (Mass.) School of Broadcasting for radio & TV broadcasting.

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