Florida

Florida's Pinellas County: Growth Gone Wild

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In the seventeen years since my last visit, Florida's Pinellas County hasn't much changed. It's still a low-grade carpet of commercial junk space from coast to coast, and the edges - where the value really lies - aren't very different than they were in the 1990s. There's more, but not better. A county that has consistently avoided growth regulation, Pinellas could have been a model for cooperative public/private real estate development, unimpeded by pesky government regulations. Instead, it is a living example of the atrocious results when leaders focus on quantity, not quality.  read more »

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How We Should Navigate the Florida Archipelago

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Leafy, timeless rural routes and monotonous, flat highways have characterized Florida’s network of state roads since the early 20th century. Vacationers in the Sunshine State either stick to the interstates – often a hot, frustrating parking lot – or consign themselves to the stop-and-go, confusing local roads. Future Corridors, the state’s vision of a future, integrated road network, is set to finish its conceptual phase this year, and promises to radically revamp the state’s road system.  read more »

Urban Housing: A Master Plan for the Few

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How we, as a nation, find bounty and beauty in the future depends upon how we react to two trends emerging from the recent difficult period in American urbanism. The first of these trends is the increasing lack of affordability in mainstream urban America, with the costs of maintaining a middle-class lifestyle at a level where distinct have/have-not lines are now drawn. The second is the increasing authoritarianism in mainstream urban America, where decisions about how our cities function are guided by a new array of authority figures that represent the common good.  read more »

Angry Gran: Mobile Game or Demographic Game-Change?

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“Angry Gran” was one of the top mobile app games of 2012 globally. In it, the gamer assumes the persona of a grandmother gone rogue: Angry Gran is angry and needs money! Whack your enemies like piñatas until the cash comes flying out... The objective? Support Gran’s ‘active’ and ‘financially savvy’ retirement by assaulting unsuspecting passers-by with various weapons. If the assault succeeds, Gran steals their money and the gamer’s score rises; if the assault fails, Gran sprains her back and the gamer’s progress is delayed. Given the aging global demographic, one wonders if this sense of humour is best categorized as fiction, or as paradoxical truth?  read more »

Petraeus's Turf: The South Tampa Scene

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Bimbo eruptions are never fortunate occurrences, least of all for the bimbos involved. When they occur in South Tampa, they carry the sordid spectacles to new frontiers. A gentle but feisty cultural mix of blue-collar, white-collar, and varied ethnicities stretches between Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay on a peninsula tipped with MacDill Air Force Base.  read more »

Subjects:

The Rise of the Third Coast

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In the wilds of Louisiana’s St. James Parish, amid the alligators and sugar plantations, Lester Hart is building the $750 million steel plant of his dreams. Over the past decade, Hart has constructed plants for steel producer Nucor everywhere from Trinidad to North Carolina. Today, he says, Nucor sees its big opportunities here, along the banks of the Mississippi River, roughly an hour west of New Orleans by car.  read more »

Superstorm Sandy & The Beachfront Bailout

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Deadline reporters, especially in weather broadcasts from the surf line, have been wailing about “this enormous storm” or “the unfolding tragedy.” What they might also say is that hurricanes are a munificent windfall for newspapers, television stations, the federal government, construction unions, and politicians seeking reelection. In addition to classifying storms from one to five on the Saffir-Simpson scale, going forward it might also be possible to grade hurricanes as profit centers, or by the surge levels that they generate in reelection campaigns.  read more »

Florida: When Your Best (Place) Just Ain't Good Enough

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Real estate broker Coldwell Banker handles corporate relocations for a large portion of our middle class. It recently released a survey of Suburbanite Best Places to Live. While it's easy to dismiss as a sales tool for their realtors, the survey provides a fascinating glimpse of middle class, suburban preferences, influenced by our current economy. Coldwell Banker’s top honors go to Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.  read more »

Localism As An Anti-Depressant

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Are we heading into a new era of local solutions?  read more »

Will Servants' Quarters Come Back, Too?

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As the Great Recession enters its fourth summer, America continues to separate into the multiple economic strands that characterized an earlier day. Our cities, built mostly since the 1930s, poorly accommodate this lack of unity, and will require radical revision if our class divisions continue to deepen.

Back in the era of the streetcar suburbs, at the turn of the 20th century, we also experienced a tiered, multiple economy. The post-Victorian prosperous middle class had carved itself new residential beltways around inner core cities – the so-called “suburbs”. The look  read more »