SOURCE: Daytona Beach News Journal
Jeff Douglas, president of Douglas Property Development, Inc., shares his thoughts on the future of Palm Coast’s Town Center.
Lots of new construction is underway in Palm Coast’s Town Center and many residents are wondering what the future holds. Overseeing major projects across Florida, Douglas Property Development, Inc. is a driving force behind Town Center’s recent reactivation and with a footprint in Flagler County reaching back decades, Jeff Douglas, president of DPD, shares his vision as this week’s On the Spot guest.
What is your background and how did you come to be in Palm Coast?
DPD is a brokerage/development firm focused on the re-positioning, planning and development of strategically located, master planned communities. Our investment in Palm Coast dates back to 1998 and in 2014 DPD re-entered the market with a private equity team and began a multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Grand Landings on Seminole Woods Boulevard. In April of 2017, DPD was tasked with revisioning, planning and selling the Allete portfolio, which included the 4,000-acre Palm Coast Park and the 2,050-acre Town Center.
What is your vision for Town Center?
A bustling and walkable downtown anchored by local businesses, education, City Hall, the arts district and MedNex. Embracing the realities and future that technology is going to give us, the mayor (Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland) envisions an inviting center and gathering place that unites all ages and members of this vibrant coastal community. Town Center’s entertainment district on the corner of City Place and Central embodies that vision. It is currently in permitting with 19 storefront lots designed for restaurant, retail, office, second-floor residential, and includes courtyards for hosting live music and entertainment.
How do you see the new apartment homes being built as a spark of life for the area?
A vibrant community requires a variety of homes, and so many of the people that contribute to our community — nurses, teachers, law enforcement — live in Volusia or St Johns County because that’s where the multifamily options are. The Palms and Central Landings not only provide that variety, but their locations in Town Center’s urban core allow residents to walk to the movie theater or the café, walk the kids to Imagine School or FPC, walk to the Picnic and Pops event or simply stroll the pathways around the lakes. Multifamily housing not only is necessary to draw businesses to Palm Coast but it’s also the catalyst that enables us to tap the fantastic, albeit scattered, food scene in Flagler County. We look to solidify Town Center as Palm Coast’s food destination.
Are there any particular businesses or industry you’d like to attract to Town Center?
We are working hard with the mayor and community partners to establish Town Center as a hub for innovation and technology —particularly in the medical sector via MedNex. Because of the Mayor’s dogged determination and the strong leadership from (state) Representative (Paul) Renner and (State) Senator (Travis) Hutson, MedNex’s cutting edge public/private structure could be America’s medical education model for the future. That said, I cannot stress enough the importance that Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High Schools and Flagler County School’s flagship academies play in providing a pipeline of entrepreneurs and the very best employees to the businesses and institutions that locate here.
Having developed other distressed or overlooked sections of communities across the nation, how do arts districts enhance opportunities for a community?
Communities need gathering places that are inviting, compelling, and entertaining — an arts district achieves all three. We have an incredible arts community in Palm Coast and finally have an opportunity to showcase it in an urban, walkable environment. Our vision for the arts district sees local students sharing stages and galleries with world-class musicians and artists.