DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Victor VanLancker has always had a big heart and a desire to help others but when he saw a viral video depicting the city he loves, he knew he had to do more.
The video — a documentary that portrays the harsh contrast between Daytona Beach’s tourist beachside and the neighborhoods just miles away — was his call to action.
VanLancker is using his background as a designer and his contacts in the construction industry to bring new housing to the Midtown area.
“My whole deal is it’s not about profits, it’s just to help affordable housing,” VanLancker said.
On a sunny afternoon, VanLancker wrestled with a set of blueprints. A steady sea breeze pushes against the pages as he struggles to find the one he’s looking for.
“The design of these houses will look like this,” VanLancker said with excitement after finally finding the rendering showing the front elevation of a home with classic looks.
VanLancker stood at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. and Wallace Street in Daytona Beach where an empty double lot is waiting for development.
“It will be a two-story plan with a porch,” VanLancker said. “It will be a style like they had back then.”
VanLancker said this is just his way of trying to make a difference.
“My son had shown me a video,” he said. “The people in the video felt like nobody wanted to help the inner city. Everybody said they want to but nobody ever does.”
The video VanLancker saw on YouTube was the documentary film, Daytona Beach: The Other Side of the Bridge, a raw portrait portraying the contrast between Daytona’s beachside tourism and the neighborhoods just miles away.
VanLancker, who grew up in Daytona Beach and Port Orange has a passion for home restoration and remodeling. He’s restored several homes in the area and said he enjoys being a part of the downtown area’s rebirth. He works as a design partner with Ponce Inlet Builders.
VanLancker said, in his mind, the design of a home should be in harmony with the area and that’s just what he has planned for Midtown.
“I didn’t want to put a shotgun-style house or a little cement house, I want to bring back the heritage. Southern-style with porches.” VanLancker said. “We’re concerned with getting the houses in there and showing the community that there are people wanting to help.”
Filmmaker, Jared Thompson, is cautiously optimistic.
“It’s a beautiful thing to know my film reached someone that is willing to invest in the infrastructure of Daytona Beach,” Thompson said. “It feels good, but I want to know what they’re doing. Why they’re doing it,”
Daytona area activist, Dyrell Johnson, was interviewed for the documentary and plays a significant role.
“That is incredible, that is wild,” Johnson said when asked about the impact of the movie. “I’m speechless because that’s impact. The fact that a documentary produced by an independent filmmaker has influenced someone to invest in our community that’s historic.”
VanLancker said it was a decision he made eight years ago that is still influencing his desire to give back. That was the first time he invited needy families into his home for Christmas. He prepared a huge meal, bought them gifts and took them out on the town to look at holiday lights.
“It’s the most gratifying thing, they wrote me letters. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” VanLancker said, adding that he hopes to continue the annual holiday party. “I was in tears over it. I start talking about it and it tears me up. There’s no feeling like it.”
VanLancker was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by a friend, Cliff Myers.
“He is getting results,” Myers said. “He’ll bend over backwards to help a man. I just can’t think of a better person to be eligible for such.”
Myers adds that VanLancker employs dozens of people through his auto sales business and home remodeling projects. Myers said he’s even seen him help strangers with small home improvement jobs at no charge.
Time will tell if building these homes will match the feeling VanLancker gets at Christmas time but he’ll know soon enough. VanLancker hopes to break ground on the first of 12 homes in the next week or two.
“I love helping people,” VanLancker said. “I love knowing I made a difference in someone’s life.