April 2012

Tuesday, April 24, city leaders of New Smyrna Beach, FL declined to extend the short term lease agreement requested by investor Wayne Heller which would have allowed him a docking place for his plans to purchase and relocate the steamboat Delta Queen. Instead the city will accept other proposals and after a vetting process the City Commission would vote on a lease agreement for the site in December. Heller had wanted to relocate the Delta Queen by June 1. Heller says he still hopes to purchase the historic vessel.

Click the links below to read the recent newpaper accounts:

Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 25, 2012

Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 26, 2012

Stay tuned for further developments.

The City Commission members of New Smyrna Beach, Florida accepting input regarding the potential relocation of the Delta Queen. They meet to further discuss this matter on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Entrepreneurs Judy and Wayne Heller “have signed a letter of intent with a 30 to 45-day window to buy the 285-foot-long Delta Queen.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

They hope to tow the 84-year-old National Historic Landmark by June 1 (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 27, 2012) to the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida to New Smyrna Beach, located south of Daytona Beach, where it would flank the Heller’s Riverview Hotel. This would remove the vessel from its current home along the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee where it operates as a hotel, restaurant, lounge, special event facility and live entertainment venue. It’s removal would separate the historic vessel from the river system it has cruised since 1947.

“To make the venture a reality, Heller said he needs the city to sell him 5 acres at 120 N. Causeway where he would dock the boat. He would use the land for parking and possibly for a boardwalk.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

Relocating the Delta Queen would require the fragile wooden vessel to endure a long ocean voyage to east Florida where the boat would float in salt water and be at risk of enduring hurricanes.

Additional concerns regarding the relocation arise from the contrast between the Delta Queen’s historical significance and Heller’s historic preservation record. The Orlando Sentinel (July 11, 2011) reported that in Winter Park, Florida “residents rallied to save the historic Casa Feliz home from demolition” after the Hellers “started razing the 1930s house that year to make way for a larger, more-updated home — until they were stopped almost immediately by the city amid protests from preservationists.”

The Casa Feliz mansion eventually was completely relocated. The nonprofit Friends of Casa Feliz was organized and $1.7 million was raised to move and restore the architectural treasure (which has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places) so that the land could be cleared to enable the Hellers to build their 27,000-square-foot mansion. (Orlando Sentinel: July 11, 2011)

If you have input you would like to share with city of New Smyrna Beach leaders regarding the plans to relocate the Delta Queen, contact:

City Commission, phone 386-424-2112
210 Sams Ave, New Smyra Beach, FL 32168

Mayor Adam Barringer:  abarringer@cityofnsb.com

Vice Mayor James Hathaway: jhathaway@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner JS Grasty:  jgrasty@cityofnsb.com

Commissioner Lynne Plaskett: lplaskett@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner Judy Reiker: jreiker@cityofnsb.com

Read the full articles cited above here:

Innkeeper wants to tow riverboat hotel to New Smyrna Beach
Daytona Beach News Journal (March 27, 2012)

New Smyrna Beach leaders interested in riverboat hotel proposal
Daytona Beach News Journal, March 28, 2012

Mega-mansion emerges where historic Casa Feliz once stood
Orlando Sentinel, July 11, 2011