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Daytona Live! Adds Exclamation Point to Speedway Area

Fri November 21, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Brooks

Ask most people what they know about Daytona Beach, Fla., and chances are they’ll say the beach, one of the most famous stretches of sand in the world, and stock car racing — not surprising considering the coastal community is home to the Daytona 500 and a whole list of other races.

Daytona Beach and stock car racing have enjoyed a long history, dating to the 1940s when Fireball Roberts and other drivers would race on the beach. Today, the Daytona International Speedway is the grand jewel of NASCAR tracks, drawing millions of visitors annually.

Now, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) is adding another venture to the community with Daytona Live!, a 71-acre (29 ha), $437 million development located on International Speedway Boulevard, across from the speedway. A joint project owned by ISC and Baltimore-based The Cordish Company, the development includes 265,000 sq. ft. (24,600 sq m) of retail, dining and entertainment, a proposed hotel, residential units and 200,000 sq. ft. (18,580 sq m) of office space, which will serve as the world headquarters for ISC, NASCAR and Grand-Am.

ISC, a promoter of motorsports activities, owns and/or operates 13 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities and promotes more than 100 racing events annually.

“We are extremely excited and honored to be selected as the developer to explore such a ground breaking and important project,” said Cordish Company Chairman David S. Cordish at the groundbreaking ceremony in May. “Given our relationship with NASCAR for the development of the NASCAR Sports Grille and other similarly themed dining establishments, this partnership with ISC was a natural fit. We expect to leverage this experience with the popularity of Daytona Beach and the renowned Daytona International Speedway to create a unique environment and unparalleled entertainment experience for racing fans, visitors and Volusia County residents, which will serve as a catalyst for further quality growth in the Daytona Beach area.”

Cordish Company is recognized for its large-scale urban revitalization projects and entertainment districts. Power Plant Live! in Baltimore; Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla.; Fourth Street Live! in Louisville; and Bayou Place in Houston are some of its developments.

“We are creating a new, year-round destination for the region that has taken the dedication and support of city, county and state officials to make this a reality,” ISC President Lesa France Kennedy said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Through our cooperative efforts, I am proud to say we will keep ISC, NASCAR and Grand-Am in the Daytona Beach community for the long term.”

The eight-story office building is scheduled to be completed in late 2009. The project is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the office building. The certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building is environmentally responsible and a healthy place to work.

Cobb Theaters LLC recently signed on to anchor Daytona Live! The 65,000-sq.-ft. (6,040 sq m) theater, Daytona Live! 14 and Cinebistro, will feature 14 screens featuring digital projection with 3D capabilities, stadium seating and a loge level providing 350 reserved premium seats, and a full-service restaurant as well as in-seat service for food and beverages.

Alabama-based BE&K Building Group is the general contractor. Pertree Constructors Inc. of Orlando is providing pre-construction and construction services for the retail/dining/entertainment phase of the project.

Founded in 1988, Pertree specializes in general contracting and construction management of commercial, industrial and institutional building programs. The company generated $60 million in revenue in 2007 and employed 56 people.

“Construction is moving along nicely,” said Charles Talbert, director of investor and corporate communications for ISC. “We’re on the third floor of an eight-story office tower.”

Talbert said the project was an offshoot of NASCAR and ISC running out of space at its current headquarters.

“We looked at what we could do to build a facility to house our headquarters, but also provide a return for our shareholders. There really aren’t any returns just building a new headquarters,” Talbert said. “We have quite a bit of land around the speedway that we envision creating a destination-type place where people can go during event weekends as well as creating a year-round destination for the community. We coupled those to create a very unique destination.”

Construction on the office building started in May and details are still being fine-tuned for the retail/dining/entertainment phase. Currently, the architect is finishing the final design, with construction beginning by early 2009.

“We’re finalizing the hotel and its actual size,” Talbert said. “We identified the anchor tenant, which is Cobb Theaters. Beyond that, we have not made any other announcements on tenants. We’re in constant conversations with prospective tenants. We’re looking at best-in-class type of tenants, restaurants, innovative retail space, live entertainment space.”

At this point, said Wes Collier, senior project manager for BE&K Building Group, construction is on schedule and going “very smoothly.”

Currently, the contractor is working on the building’s concrete frame and installing storm lines.

“No real challenges so far,” Collier said. “The site had previously been a number of office buildings and they were torn down under a separate demolition contract. When we got here it was pretty much wide open.”

Collier said they’re using pretty standard equipment, including a mobile power crane and a couple of smaller cranes, excavators, dump trucks, pavers and graders.

“The only thing that’s unusual is the power crane,” Collier said. “We have some limitations because the airport is fairly close. We had a height limitation. The rest of the equipment is though subcontractors.”

Those subcontractors include Stephen Counts Inc., which is doing the grading and paving; Truant Construction, concrete; Economy Electric; and R&R Industries, mechanical.

Collier said about 80 workers are onsite, working a single daytime shift.

They are having to shift some dirt to replace a number of smaller retention ponds with one larger one, said Collier.

“The site has good access, no traffic, no delays,” Collier said. “It used to be a fairly busy office complex with [its] own road network and we ended up closing one of those road networks because it was too close to the office building construction. The only impact on the area is just what they see when they drive down International Speedway Boulevard.”

Collier said there are a couple of challenges for this project.

“It’s a highly visible project, right across from the owner’s main office so we get more than our fair share of attention,” Collier said. “We also have a pretty aggressive schedule and we’ve had to work around the race events. For several events, we have to shut down because they use part of this site for parking and pedestrian access.”

Collier said the project’s most important impacts will be consolidating NASCAR people in one building and creating opportunities for the local community in the retail/dining/entertainment phase.

“The theme is tied into NASCAR with related restaurants and stores,” Collier said. “It’s an extension of the speedway and that’s the most special part of it.”

Ronnie Maddox, project manager of Pertree, said Daytona Live! gives ISC an opportunity to have more modern and upscale retail areas that they have not had before.

“Obviously, the track is a very big draw and the residents will be the additional beneficiaries of the whole complex being put in for the track,” Maddox said. “They’ll be able to enjoy it all year.”

Talbert said Daytona Live! is a positive example of what can happen in Daytona Beach.

“It will, we think, be a year-round destination for the surrounding community,” Talbert said. “We are trying to create additional entertainment options for race fans who come to our facilities. Our fans come early and stay late and we’re just giving them more opportunities.” CEG

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