Palm Coast sees potential sports complex in undeveloped land west of US 1 as catalyst for development
The Palm Coast government will spend $113,000 to study the market potential for a sports and recreation complex, possibly in the undeveloped part of Palm Coast, north and west of US 1.
Don’t confuse it with another Indian Trails sports complex. It could include indoor facilities. It could include an aquatic center. “It’s bigger than more fields, and we don’t know what we’re looking for, which is why we’re conducting this study,” said Jason DeLorenzo, director of development and city chief of staff.
The concept also envisions the sports complex as the catalyst for the future development of Palm Coast’s next frontier: 30,000 acres of empty land. This part of the city doubles as the Palm Coast lands within its former boundaries. This speaks to the wave of annexation that followed less than a decade after Palm Coast was incorporated in 1999.
Subdivisions began seeding development at the west end of US 1, but in installments. There is room for full replication of large neighborhoods like the W, R, P, and B sections of Palm Coast, if more planned and less clear-cut than ITT’s approach.
“As we begin to plan them,” DeLorenzo said this morning, “we will be looking for opportunities for conservation, wildlife, wildlife habitat corridors, future water sources for the city and, of course, a multitude of opportunities for economic growth, including the sports complex and the tourism that can be generated from it.
In December, the city begins construction on a two-year project to build a “flyover” crossing point from US 1 at Matanzas Woods Parkway above the train tracks, to the open west. This flyover, so called because it is necessary to pass over the railway line, is at the heart of the city’s expansion plans. The sports complex could take the form of a beachhead for the city’s colonization efforts in this area.
But it is not absolutely certain that the new sports complex will be built there. Other areas will also be studied. One of these areas is at the northern end of the city, another at the southern end of the city. Both have limitations that a resort in Palm Coast West would not have. There are environmental concerns at the north end. At the southern end, the land is private property.
The city “suspects that there may be a growing need for high-quality venues to host regional, national and even national sporting events and at the same time provide excellent facilities for residents to use,” it says. her in her outline of the contract for a sports center. complex feasibility study. The new complex could balance the city’s need for more local recreation grounds, either by absorbing all regional and national competitions, theoretically leaving the Indian Trails Sports Complex to cater to local leagues and residents, or by providing additional options for more tournaments.
Just four years ago, then-City Manager Jim Landon offered to spend $100,000 on a similar study of a large, “multi-generational” recreation and aquatic center that would be located at the tennis center near Belle Terre Parkway. The city council killed the idea. There was no money to build such a center, and all available dollars went to rebuilding Holland Park (and that wading pool) and the Palm Coast Community Center.
But two years later, the vast expansion of the tennis center has begun to take shape as a regional sports center and is now a nearly $12 million project. The administration also billed this recreation center as a regional sports complex that would both focus on racquet competition (tennis and pickleball) and provide residents with a recreational destination on the south end of town. The difference with the Palm Coast West project is that the expansion of the tennis center and the Indian Trails sports complex followed the development, with a huge user base already in place.
In Palm Coast West, the city is changing roles. The proposed sports complex would be “a magnet for all of these individuals and families who are now passing us in huge numbers,” Mayor David Alfin said, “all the way to Palm Beach County. So there’s no reason to that these people have to spend all that fuel, they can stop here halfway and enjoy their sports competitions here, while enjoying all the beauty of the city of Palm Coast.
Alfin described the sports complex as “a catalyst, because it’s the first step in improving the unimproved property” at US West 1. The complex at this point would be largely dependent on tournaments at outside of town. How would a location in the middle of what would still be nowhere at that time appeal to participants and their families, who would still have to travel some distance to get to hotels and restaurants – as they would not at the Indian Trails Sports Complex, or Palm Beach County – was not explained.
It may be part of what a Clearwater-based company called Sports facility companies can explain part of the $113,000 the city will pay him to study the Palm Coast West project. DeLorenzo and Lauren Johnston, deputy city manager and former director of parks and recreation, presented the proposal to city council during a workshop this morning.
The company, one of seven who bid on the proposal, would study regional market demand and the potential economic benefits of ‘sports tourism’, as the city describes it – meaning a replication of what it has done at the Indian Trails Sports Complex. This facility is richly booked with regional tournaments – softball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer – that bring families to Palm Coast for overnight stays. Since the influx generates the reservation of hotel rooms and frequentation of the local restaurant, it is considered tourism.
A local market accounting should consider the Indian Trails complex, and to do so honestly, to forecast whether an additional regional sports complex could sustain itself viably without depleting the base of the existing sports complex. But based on the city’s current experience (the city currently denies out-of-county tournaments because it has limited their number to Indian Trails, to ensure local leagues have their space), this may not be a problem. Yet, DeLorenzo points out, the study aims to answer these questions.
The company would take 12 weeks to complete its first step – market and competition analysis. The second step would determine how much the plan would cost and what its potential economic benefits would be. “The second task is dependent on completing the first task, so we want to make sure we’re happy with that goal first,” Johnston said.
The company, an engineering and architecture firm, complaints on its website for “overseeing $10 billion in sports and recreation projects developed” in 2,000 communities. (The city’s submission to the board increased that to $15 billion.) These include the Panama City Beach Sports Complex with 13 tournament-quality fields and two fields that can accommodate up to 1,500 spectators. The company manages the facilities it builds.
Looking at the plan more broadly, Alfin said, “It can and I think will become a model for the state of Florida by designating the greenway and animal quarters from the start, staking them out and making our development work around that, we know what our priority is. This will become a model of smart growth, smartly managed growth for the future. The city, he said, has little wiggle room for error when planning this. The council is expected to ratify the deal with the sports facility companies when it meets next week.