All has been mostly quiet at the site of the proposed I-4 Automall since the project received approval from DeLand and Lake Helen late in 2018.
Nevertheless, work is continuing behind the scenes.
Rob Doan, an attorney with Cobb Cole representing developer Brendan Hurley, said design work and negotiations are underway.
“Right now, engineering and construction estimation work is being done,” Doan said in an email. “There are negotiations taking place with several potential developers and end-users for the non-auto-sales west side of the property (the DeLand side) … There is also ongoing design work for the auto [dealership] side based on the requests of future occupants.”
The I-4 Automall, which caused much consternation among residents and DeLand city officials throughout much of 2018, is planned on about 52 acres of land immediately west of the Interstate 4 interchange with Orange Camp Road, which is known as Main Street in Lake Helen.
The project threatened to cause a lengthy legal battle between DeLand and Lake Helen, after its backers initially tried to have the entire site annexed into Lake Helen.
Last summer, the developer and the two cities reached an agreement, which saw the western portion of the project site — which is slated to contain a hotel, restaurants and a gas station — annexed into DeLand.
The portion of the site with the actual Automall, including 11 multistory dealership buildings, has been annexed into Lake Helen. DeLand will provide water and sewage services to the entire site.
Doan said the project’s developer is looking at coordinating the timing of construction with improvements to Orange Camp Road, which Volusia County is set to begin construction on later this year.
“It makes the most sense to install utility extensions along Orange Camp while it is already torn up, and to build turn lanes into and out of the future ‘Frontage Road’ during the other construction as opposed to trying to tie in to Orange Camp after the fact,” Doan said.
Some minor clearing work on the site has already taken place, to allow for surveying and soil testing, but Doan said “true construction” won’t begin for at least a few more months.
“We anticipate announcements about construction plans sometime this spring,” he said.