Growing whispers point to bust rather than boon with Russian Towers in Daytona Beach

Russian Towers planned for Daytona Beacvh may prove to be a bust more than a boon for the torism-destination city / Headl;one Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® /
The largest proposed residential-commercial development in the history of Daytona Beach, the so-called Russian Towers, approved by the city last year for location at water's edge east of the Seabreeze Boulevard Bridge, already is six months past a scheduled groundbreaking and may be on shaky financial ground.

DAYTONA BEACH -- With an August groundbreaking that came and went with no dirt moved and growing whispers in recent days that the $150 million Russian Towers condo-hotel development may prove to be a bust rather than the economic boom propagated ad nausea in the News-Journal.

Bob Walker, business agent for Teamsters 385 and a retired homicide detective, whose union represents Daytona cops, posted the following message Thursday evening on his Facebook page: "Strong rumors out of Daytona in the last few days....Seems one of their multi-million dollar projects is about to go belly up. Why? Lets just say it involves heavily tattooed fellows from an Asian country who like to stay in the shadows.....but someone shined a light on them.....Strong rumor. Hope it's not true."

Mayor Derrick Henry acknowledged those growing whispers have come more pronounced, telling Headline Surfer® late Thursday, "They may be in trouble, but there are several other big projects in the works. We are fine."

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry / Headline Surfer®Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry (shown here at left), elected in 2012, acknowledged to Headline Surfer® Thursday night that the proposed $150 million Russian Towers project near the Seabreeze Avenue Bridge, the largest residential/commercial project ever proposed near the World's Most Famouys Beach, may not come to fruition.

Mayor Derrick Henry acknowledged those growing whispers have come more pronounced, telling Headline Surfer® late Thursday, "They may be in trouble, but there are several other big projects in the works. We are fine."

With the city's other big-ticket project,. the Hard Rock Hotel progressing along with sales of half its nearly 100 condo units sold before groundbreaking has begun there either, the second-year mayor is not quite ready to start waving a white flag.

Two other massive projects are on the mainland -- the $400 million Daytona Rising modernization of Daytona International Speedway and its One Daytona retail complex on 180-plus acres across the street.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s dramatic Daytona 500 victory under the lights Sunday night following a six-hour rain delay that halted the race after just 38 laps, put Junior, NASCAR's most popular driver and Daytona, in the national spotlight.

With the growing tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the turmoil in neighboring Ukraine, the Daytona Beach could find itself feeling tension of its own in the global spotlight with uncertainty over the large-scale project touted by the Russian father-and-son team of Dimitri and Alexy Lisech who also live in Palm Coast part of the year.

Under their company, Protogroup, the Liseches have reportedly built four hotels in St. Petersburg, Russia, six supermarkets in Russia and a hotel in Montenegro.

Despite the repeat press release-driven hype in the News-Journal, often long on hyperbole and short on facts, not much is known of the Liseches or the extent of their assets in carrying out such a massive development south of Seabreeze Boulevard.

The Liseches could not be reached for comment.

Protogroup's project in Daytona's beachside on the easternmost portion of Seabreeze and Oakwood boulevards, calls for two 300-foot-plus towers: A 29-story condo building with 105 rooms and a 26-story hotel with 500 rooms and street-level shops along Atlantic Avenue.

The project also lists as possibilities,15,100 square feet of meeting space, 14,000 square feet of retail space, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, a fitness room, a ballroom, a roof garden, penthouses and a state-of-the-art automated parking structure.

Fast Facts: Print newspaper's PR reporting:

Jeffrey Cassaday of the Dytona Beach News-Journal / Headline Surfer®News-Journal hype on developments in Daytona / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® photo /
Jeffrey Cassaday, shown at far left, is among the new breed of glad-handing-style business reporters under the four-year ownership of the News-Journal by parent company,Halifax Media Group, putting emphasis on promoting business and political interests that appear to be self-serving. That hype also extends to the opinion page where elected officials and business insiders like attorney Glenn Storch have been given latitude to promote their clients' financial interests.

Here is an example of the public relations reporting done by the Daytona Beach News-Journal in hyping business stories in Daytona Beach and other parts of Volusia County: A story written last year by business writer Jeffrey Cassaday and headlined, "New hotel projects spark interest in beachside property," has the following as its opening two paragraphs:

DAYTONA BEACH -- Not a shovel full of dirt has yet been turned on the sites of two massive hotel-and-condo complexes planned for the beachfront, but their mere announcements have already created ripples of interest in beachside real estate.

And local industry observers say the ripples could well become waves once construction on the two projects begins.

The story's hype continues with this passage:

Protogroup announced its plans for the project in October. It was followed by a May announcement that Bayshore Capital Inc., a Toronto company, plans to build a $100 million, 250-room Hard Rock Hotel complex south of Sun Splash Park on S.R. A1A. Since then, developers and investors have been looking at the Daytona beachfront with new eyes, and local real estate brokers have been fielding calls from people inquiring about property near the proposed developments.

Nowhere in the story does the News-Journal cite any such developers and investors by name nor does it list the names of any so-called real estate brokers allegedly fielding calls.

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.