DAYTONA BEACH — Brown & Brown’s plan to build a 10-story downtown headquarters tower overlooking the Halifax River is a big step closer to becoming a reality.
The insurance brokerage giant recently completed its $4.25 million purchase of the vacant 10.5-acre development site on North Beach Street.
The company also has begun making good on its pledge to create more than 600 new jobs locally by the end of 2022, adding approximately 40 jobs since July 2017, according to Chairman J. Hyatt Brown.
The newly created jobs are to pay an average of at least $41,300 a year, according to the pledge, which if met would qualify the company to receive $4.5 million in economic incentives from the state and county.
Brown & Brown, which expects to pay $30 million to build its planned headquarters, not counting the cost of the lots, is also in line to receive a $9 million reimbursement from the city and county for infrastructure improvements, provided the office tower is at least 175,000 square feet.
Company officials say they are looking to build a tower in the 180,000 to 200,000-square-foot range.
“We’re moving as fast as we can,” said Brown, who added that the company has set October 2020 as the target date for moving into its new headquarters.
Redeveloping the two side-by-side empty lots is expected to help revitalize the north end of downtown Daytona Beach, which is surrounded by run-down houses and aging commercial buildings.
“I think the Brown & Brown move … is the renaissance that Beach Street needs,” said Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance, a group of local business leaders dedicated to improving the local economy.
“It’s going to have a huge impact — you bring that many people at the salaries they’re going to be making,” said Sharples, whose group’s members include Brown. Those workers, both the projected new hires as well as workers who will be moving from the company’s current headquarters at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave., are expected to boost business at nearby restaurants and attract more eateries and shops, as well as the potential development of new apartments and/or condominiums, he said.
Beach Street merchant Sheryl Cook, who co-owns Tom Cook Jeweler and serves as vice chair of the Downtown Development Authority, said Brown & Brown’s new headquarters, when it opens, is “going to have a great impact on downtown. It’s going to bring a lot of jobs — more people eating lunch at restaurants, shopping and also needing a place to live.”
Just seeing the site being redeveloped will be a big improvement, Cook said. “That site has been in deplorable condition for a long time. It’s an eyesore.”
Jack White, a local developer who with his wife Kelly, a City Commissioner, own several commercial buildings in downtown Daytona Beach, said the Brown & Brown project is “a huge boost” in confidence for the area.
“It gives people a renewed belief in downtown,” he said.