Redevelopment of Hotel Putnam is still on schedule

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN AN EYESORE, FOR NOW — The Hotel Putnam, at 225 W. New York Ave., photographed from across the street at DeLand City Hall Aug. 26. The building isn’t looking so great nowadays, especially after recent demolitions. After the redevelopment project is done, though, the owners say the building will look like it did in the 1920s.

Recent demolitions over at the Hotel Putnam at 225 W. New York Ave. have left the former hotel looking like a shell of its former self, and have caused some people to speculate that the building is coming down completely.

Not so, the new owners promise. Once restoration of the Putnam to the glory of its 20th-century heyday is complete, residents and passersby will love it, Jeremy Long said.

“There’s some really cool things that are going to be in there. We’re really excited about it,” Long said The Beacon. “You’ll walk into it thinking you’re in the 1920s, but you’ll have all the modern amenities you’d want.”

Long is a managing partner at Axia Partners, an investment firm that bought the dilapidated building for $2,325 million in 2021. Axia bought the building from Mohamed Rashad, who spent years wrestling with the City of DeLand over how the hotel could be redeveloped.

Axia has experienced some delays, Long said, but the company is still hopeful the hotel can reopen in the fall of 2023 with 72 apartment units.

“With these kinds of things, you always have a timeline and then it gets pushed and moved around based on permitting and these kinds of things,” Long said.

Thankfully, he added, the former hotel is structurally sound. Demolition has eliminated features on the outside that were old and potentially unsafe, but the building’s structure will remain; plans call for exterior elements that have been removed to be restored.

Once it’s opened back up, Long is confident the Hotel Putnam will live up to the beauty the building once had.

“It was the center of the county,” I said. “It was a gorgeous, gorgeous building.”

PHOTO COURTESY STETSON TODAY
STILL STANDING — Photographed in 2019, the dugout canoe rescued from the dilapidated Hotel Putnam still hangs in the duPont-Ball Library at Stetson University.

Long wants the inside to reflect its history, too.

“We’ve seen pictures from the ’40s and ’50s, and we’re going to see if we can match the look and the colors,” he said.

Another example of Axia’s commitment to a renovation true to the building’s history is the 22-foot-long Native American canoe that once hung in the hotel. When the hotel was undergoing renovations in 2018, a local collector purchased the canoe and donated it to Stetson Universitywhich suspended the dugout canoe from the ceiling of the duPont-Ball Library, where it hangs to this day.

Long said the canoe is on his list of items that once were on display at the hotel that he is interested in bringing back.

The canoe isn’t as important as getting the building fixed up, though.

Working on such an important DeLand building is a little stressful, Long said, especially when construction crews are working within view of City Hall. But, it’s not all bad.

I compared it to the time I lived across the street from his mother.

“It’s kind of a little like that. They’re literally looking through the window every day,” he said. “They see us on-site. It’s probably the most unique part of this.”

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