In Daytona, the original main streets of Beach Street, Main Street (above) and Seabreeze served as our beach communities’ town greens. These streets reflected our physical location with its proximity to the beach and the warm climate. Residents could walk to restaurants, banks and stores.
But we, too, drank the Kool-Aid for the 1960s and 1970s. Historic properties, built with quality materials and skilled workmanship, to fit in and take advantage of our special natural features, were neglected and abandoned in favor of the “new is better” mantra. Residents and businesses moved west. The Volusia Mall opened in 1974. Much of Beachside became the dark side, Downtown Daytona struggled and social services agencies moved in to address the needs of the new Daytona.
In an effort to ameliorate the devastation that was Beachside, the “City declared the Boardwalk a blighted area”. Orlando Sentinel, April 25, 2001. That designation allowed the City to condemn buildings for purposes of redevelopment and offer tax incentives. Ocean Center, Ocean Walk and the Hilton all exist as a result of City efforts, which began in the 1980s.
Beachside and Downtown are still in recovery mode. Historic buildings, both residential and commercial, continue to deteriorate. We have not yet achieved that walkability, the sense of community, the recognition of our natural strengths or the implementation of plans to capitalize on those strengths.