For some reason no one has explained publicly, the new owners of the derelict Old Dixie motel that’s been giving county government, the Health Department and the Sheriff’s Office so much trouble in recent years have yet to reveal themselves in person since buying the property from negligent owners almost a year ago.
There was high hope then that the difficulties would be over: the new owners were pledging to rebuild the property into a posh hotel. It’s not been as simple. County and owners, at least through their attorneys–previously, Valeria Schvartzman of Miami, now the Ft. Lauderdale-based D’Apuzzo Law Firm, which appears to consist of one attorney, Theodore D’Apuzzo–have wrangled over missed deadlines and further court proceedings before reaching the latest resolution.
The developers for the first time this evening unveiled clearer plans for the property–but through their local representatives: Greg Kong, a local realtor representing MG Capital Partners, and Jim Albano, representing the architect and the general contractor. (Kong said MG Capital is behind the development. The Division of Corporations lists MG Capital as inactive in Florida. The basic website of the company was established in February 2021.) The presentation was not included in the background materials submitted to the public and the commission. The letterhead it used for a memo authorizing its local representative to speak on its behalf included no phone number.
Fines, taxes, health violations, “all those things were cleared up by the current owner,” Kong said, and the property was fenced in. The estimated project cost is at about $5.2 million. “But they’re still very well vested in the county, they see a lot of potential in our county,” he said.
“Listen, the property doesn’t look pretty right now even though it was cleaned up,” Kong said. “All of the dirty beds, the bathrooms, all of those things were removed and to whatever dumpster–I don’t know how many dumpster loads there were, but there were a lot.” The pool was dug out entirely and filled in.
“We were tasked with with taking this derelict hotel and turning it into a flagship property for Flagler County,” Albano said. “The owners own 17 or actually 18 hotels now, mostly in the Northeast. So this is their 19th property.” The project is modeled after a “boutique hotel” in Scottsdale, Ariz., he said. The future hotel will be reduced from 100 to 96 rooms, in exchange for adding a few suites. The lobby will have a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner: one of the owners is a restaurateur who owns five restaurants in new York City, Albano said. The restaurant at night and on the weekend would become a steakhouse.
The hotel will have a 3,500-foot banquet center, which may be split for two simultaneous meetings. The pool will be 30-by-90 feet, framed within a glass fence. Albano said the design is complete, with a one-year construction schedule from when the project receives its permits.
There’s been some illegal dumping at the property since the new owners took over. Albano said there was a breach in the fence, enabling trespassers do cause the illegal dumping, which has since been cleaned up. The project will have 24-hour security once construction begins. Commissioner Andy Dance, who alone among the commissioners asked questions, was curious about the hotel’s viability in the market–and what, specifically, the owners mean by “boutique hotel.” Albano described it as “smaller in size,” but more upscale, comparing the quality of the food and drinks to Hammock Beach Resort, though he said local residents will be encouraged to use the facilities, possibly through day passes for use of the pool.
Albano Design Studios is overseeing the design phase of the project. The roof repairs have been started by Four Seasons Roofing, Kong said. “You can’t see people on the roof because there’s about a five foot facade in the front, and unless you’re standing right at the edge, you’re not going to see anyone working on the roof,” he said. (He submitted pictures of the roofers after the county asked if anything was being done.) “There’s been rumblings that we’re putting a bandaid on the roof and it’s only going to last two years,” Albano said. The roof, he said, is “warrantied for five years.” But supply-chain shortages are creating problems, including for such things as sealant for the 22,000 square foot roof, which dates back to the early 1970s. Still, Albano said, “we’re about seven to 10 days away from completing the roof repairs.”
“Subject to materials,” Kong said.
Dance asked whether the property would be re-sold. Albano said the owners hold on to their properties and run them. No resale is foreseen. “They have quite a substantial portfolio,” Kong said. Oddly, Kong’s and Albano’s presentation included not a single image or reference to an actual hotel or motel the owners own, whether in the Northeast or elsewhere. It’s unusual: when developers pitch projects to local governments, they tend to like to back-up claims about their portfolios with illustrations, if only for comparison’s sake. None of the commissioners asked for an example, even if just by name.
“You said they were mainly in the Northeast. Is there anything else in Florida that they are working on or have worked on?” Dance asked.
“I can attest to that myself because I’m the one working with them,” Kong said.
“But is there a completed one?” Dance asked.
“A Hotel? No, there there’s two other properties that they’re in pursuit of, in negotiation,” there’s one property that’s right on our doorstep, just outside the county,” Kong said. “They also use a third party management company that is based in Arizona, and they have I’m going to say close to 2000 Hotels under their umbrella that they manage.” He referred to the entity as the Phoenix-based Reliance Hotel Group.
“There’s no doubt about it, I’m happy to see this, because it’s been a long struggle with this location,” Commissioner Dave Sullivan said. (Somehow Commissioner Joe Mullins knew that Sullivan had visited the site recently, and urged him to speak about it, which would imply that the two commissioners would have discussed it outside the meeting.) “It’s been vacant for a number of years. So it’s not an easy project to take on and try to fix up again. But it’s a great location, right on Interstate 95 and across from Plantation Bay. So seeing progress is the most important thing here. Progress is important. And then to continue the progress: we do have some problems with the venues. But you have been putting money into this already. You briefed me on that. And so there’s no doubt you’re serious and that you want to get this thing done as soon as possible.”
Bespoke Group, the Flagler Beach firm, will be the architect of record. KPI Engineering of Tampa, the engineers of the previous owners, will also be the engineers of record for the new owners.
John R says
Kong has been around a long time. He would not want to tarnish himself if he was not behind them or they were not on the up and up with this project. Just my thoughts.
Gina Weiss says
Flagler Live: My thoughts exactly, why not name the hotels and restaurants the owners own if their portfolio is so substantial???
Not a fan says
Sunshine law, sunshine law, sunshine law. Where for art thou, oh sunshine law?
Poor Joe, he can’t be bothered with laws. Laws apply to thee but not to me, right Joe?
So they are using the same buildings, just remodeling? If that’s the case, I would bet there will be mold. It is very difficult to get rid of it.
PC Dave says
So, a basic website that was started 3 months before they bought this place, with some stock photos of buildings, claiming hundreds of millions worth of real estate transactions in recent years. And they are going to spend 5.2 million on renovating the place. Plus the costs of running and staffing the hotel and restaurant. All this for a small out of the way hotel. And they aren’t even listed as an active business in Florida. Sounds awesome! Nothing suspicious here at all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to respond this email I got from a Nigerian prince. Don’t tell anybody, but he’s gonna deposit millions in my bank account, and then split it with me! Easy street here I come!!
The dude says
Nothing in this county gets done within a one year timeframe. Except for crappy duplexes. They can build a crappy duplex in like 6 weeks.
Charlie Ericksen Jr says
Having sat for the full “presentation” , I was not impressed by the future plans.. There still seemed to be many questions and no real pictures , of today’s improvements.. Yes, David and the chairman , seemed to have talked about it outside and before the meeting but that’s a ” given” for the 2 of them..
I was amused by the chairman’s , lengthy , initial congratulations to the audience being under control , then thanking the locals for improved behavior over past meetings on other subjects,, I guess he forgets , himself and his followers as being quite , the noisy ones , when ” masks’ were first required..
Maybe I’m in la la land, but typically, hotels along a major highway are for single night stays by travelers enroute elsewhere. It seems odd that someone would want to spend millions refurbishing a derelict property into a boutique hotel in this area, when just a few miles away there are beachfront locations. I hope it works…
Yup, our county is so good that 24hr security is required to protect it. Maybe we should do something about the crime instead of worrying about money being spent. Our elected official’s priorities are screwed up!
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Deep breaths are in process for this long frustrating scenario
Current photos of this dump, taken as recently as 4 days ago were sent to 4 commissioners : they are timed in my cell phone. (However, I did send one taken by the Health Department in 2018 which they forwarded to me together with many others showing broken glass, drug needles, mattresses, empty booze bottles.. etc. ) In fact if you look at the Property Appraisers Website and look at pictorial photos taken in 2018, 2019 you can see the garbage and mattresses scattered all over the grounds.
Despite being fully aware of this gross health hazard the county has ignored this since the hotel closed in 2009. . Most of the deplorable conditions today remain just the same – the mattresses are gone – the pool is filled – the broken glass, busted railings, busted front roof, overgrown grass, black entry walls are just as disgusting as ever. New fresh garbage visible and growing daily on the south side of the building.
The current lawsuit has cost us $20,774 to date ( going nowhere other than blab blah pleadings and repeat extensions and’ forgiveness’ by the county for never paying the $250,000 bond required no later than August 20, 2021, for defaulting on answering the amended lawsuit to include the new owners ” 2251 S, Od Dixie Highway” not the FLORIDA non existent MG Capital Partners, LLC ( who are a Delaware non specified LLC) . Staff says they have ‘written permission from the real owners to let this foreign non Florida registered outfit speak on their behalf but have yet to produce such documentation , neither at yesterday’s meeting nor as of this writing.
If we can all add it should be obvious that we taxpayers are on the losing end all the way around:
Hotel taxes $4,000 a year – total income to taxpayers
417 Sheriff trips to hotel from Jan 2018 though January 2022; How much? we have no idea but not for free
$20,774 to McKinnon law firm for a year of bah blah pleadings.
How much of our tax dollars for staff time, both Jerry Cameon , Heidi Petito, Adam Mengel, Julie Murply? WHO KNOWS?
$250,000 LOSS to us taxpayers for condoned default of legal owners.
Staff also let this unspecified duo actually accuse the writer of TRESSPASSING in addition to falsely claiming that the only busted rails are in the rear of the hotel. They denied there is any garbage and the county just let them babble away and include lies and slander as part of their ‘babble’ NOT ONE SINGLE WORD ABOUT THE $250,000 in default since August.
The Roof? Roofer answered my 4th call and told me he gets in through the back – but the gate is in the front of the fenced in hotel and the busted roof is smack in the front of what once was a hotel.
If you want to see where your tax dollars are also going just look up Case Nunber: 2021 CA 000109 which is online shows the number of blah blahs filed by McKinnon ( former county attorney) together with current County attorney which , once again, has cost us $20,774 SO FAR as of McKinnon’s January payments. Oh yeah – County Attorney filed a Default Hearing Notice on February 4 and told the Commissioners it was set for Hearing March 1st. HOORAY ! uh oh not so fast. According to Judge Perkins Judicial Assistant neither of the attorneys ever asked for a hearing date! When caught Hadeed told Commissioners that the court ” mis-filed” his Hearing Notice in the Criminal Division Say what? Not so says Clerk Tom Bexley. This case is entirely filed in Civil. What happened to the Default? You tell me readers.. The same as everything else lately – la la land
This dump is not only a disgrace to the surrounding community and our quality of life it is a tremendous drain on our wallets. Listening to one off the commissioners bemoaning money lost to the county isn’t it hypocracy that expenses and debts owed amounting to over $300,000 is of no concern nor are phony presentations made by undefined individuals?
13 years we are facing this dump and for 13 years the county has taken NO visible action. It is past the time to demolish this P.O.S. The game playing and total disrespect for those of us who have to look at it is a revolting insult , disgraceful and yes , once again, inexcusable malfeasance in my opinion.
Will we live to see this dump torn down or will it be a shrine to the county’s indifference to this community
A bulldozer and a few trash bins will fix this problem.
They are going to try and flip it IMO