Daytona seeks entertainment complex approval

UPDATE The Daytona Beach Planning Board on Thursday “unanimously approved a rezoning measure that's needed for Daytona International Speedway and its parent company to push ahead with plans to dramatically improve the track facilities and add new hotels, restaurants, shops, movie theaters and nightclubs," according to Eileen Zaffiro-Kean of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. With the vote, DIS' proposed sports and entertainment complex project that includes 483 acres “cleared another key hurdle." The board's approval "comes just a few weeks after board members OK'd a similar measure for 180 acres of International Speedway Corporation land just north of the track on the other side of International Speedway Boulevard."

If city commissioners “agree in a series of meetings this fall with the requests to rezone the full 663 acres on both sides of the bustling thoroughfare from major sports district to planned master development, the Speedway will be able to chase its dream for the sprawling complex."

The planned master development rezoning for both properties “would allow the Speedway to build up to 2 million square feet of shops, restaurants and nightclubs; up to 1,785 hotel rooms; movie theaters with a combined maximum 5,000 seats; up to 1,600 multi-family residential units and 950,000 square feet of industrial uses." The Speedway also “wants to add casino gambling on the two sites straddling International Speedway Boulevard" if gambling is legalized in the state of Florida. Daytona Beach News Journal


Expanding The World Center of Racing

Daytona International Speedway and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., want to transform the track and land north of International Speedway Boulevard over the next 50 years. Their requests call for:

  • More than 2 million square feet of retail, including stores, restaurants and nightclubs.
  • Up to 1,785 hotel rooms.
  • Multi-screen theaters with 5,000 seats combined.
  • 1,600 multi-family residential units, such as hotel/condos and timeshares.
  • 950,000 square feet of industrial uses.
  • Casino gambling, if legalized in Florida.

SOURCE: Rezoning requests filed with city of Daytona Beach

Large hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and shops could all spring up at Daytona International Speedway and on a large swath of property north of International Speedway Boulevard in coming years.

Rezoning requests the Speedway is making to the city this summer show the racing giant could one day build a combined 2 million square feet of retail space, 1,785 hotel rooms and 1,600 multi-family residential units on its land straddling International Speedway Boulevard. Casino gambling also could be added, if it's legalized in Florida.

On Thursday, Speedway officials will ask the city's Planning Board to approve changes at the racetrack that would include redesigning the grandstands to create a more modern stadium appearance.

The Planning Board gave its okay last month for the part of the project north of International Speedway Boulevard. Both proposals will need final approval from the City Commission this fall.

The requests together make up a massive development on 663 acres and, if approved at all the government meetings over the next few months, will clear the way for Daytona International Speedway to create a racing and entertainment complex unlike anything Daytona Beach has ever seen.

"The impact on the International Speedway Boulevard corridor will just be pretty awesome," said Mayor Glenn Ritchey. "It will also solidify the title as the world center of racing. I commend them for their investment."

Ritchey said he's not aware of any particular hotels or restaurants the Speedway might be talking to, but added, "I'm sure they know some potential clients."

Although the city has zoning authority over the Speedway's properties, the Volusia County Council also will discuss the request at its meeting Thursday. The county owns most of the racetrack property and is in a lease agreement with the Speedway that expires in 2054.

Speedway officials stress everything is very preliminary. They say what they're doing now is building the foundation with necessary zoning changes to develop the track and property north of International Speedway Boulevard owned by its parent company, International Speedway Corp.

Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said Monday there is no timeline for the Speedway improvements, but indicated that some of the plans could be put in motion in the next few years.

"I won't be running the Speedway in 50 years, but I want to be part of this process," he said. "We wouldn't be going to the city for these approvals if we didn't think this wasn't a potential in the near term. We want to make improvements sooner rather than later."

Chitwood would like to see the Speedway become the gateway to the city. His plan proposes aesthetic changes to the track's exterior, front-stretch grandstands and entry points.

Chitwood wants to install a new "skin" on the exterior of the Speedway to create a modern stadium appearance and a new front-stretch grandstand "to pay homage to racing history."

The new "skin" would be made of "metal panel screening," according to the Speedway request.

Escalators, which are fixtures at most sports venues, would be added in addition to what Chitwood described as "fan injectors," or new colorful metal entranceways to the grandstand areas.

The request calls for 300,000 seats for the track and its racing-related facilities, such as meeting rooms, lobbies, suites and concessions. Currently, the track has 147,000 seats.

Daytona Beach Deputy City Manager Paul McKitrick said the rebuilding of the north side grandstands could start in about a year and possibly be completed in about three years.

City Planner Rich Walton said the stadium wall could expand out toward International Speedway Boulevard to provide more space for fan activities inside the stadium.

The Speedway has discussed creating five new track entrances with sponsors such as Pepsi or Sprint that could have their own vendors set up just inside, Walton said.

Speedway spokesman Lenny Santiago said the timing of the grandstand changes is still undecided.

Walton said the Speedway might reconfigure the bridge that race fans use to get across International Speedway Boulevard so the south end of it connects directly to the track rather than extending back down to street level.

Chitwood said his vision of the Speedway in the future would become an "ah-ha" moment for first-time visitors. The Speedway was built in 1958 to host races and seat fans and not to be aesthetically pleasing.

"This is what I want," Chitwood said. "When someone turns down ISB and they see the Speedway, they want to pull over, get out of the car and take a picture of the World Center of Racing. We want fans to go 'Wow!' That's the objective going forward."

City officials are impressed with the quality and scope of what they've seen so far.

"I think it's a great project," said city Planning Board member Tracey Remark. "It'll take racing into the future. It's fabulous what's being proposed." More at Daytona Beach News Journal

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