Florida

Orlando: Uncle Sam Meets Mickey Mouse

rdecom.jpg

Hawks and doves disagree on whether World War II ended the Great Depression.  Depending on which species of bird squawks louder, military spending may be the only way out of our current financial malaise.  In many ways it is already happening, although it is a surreptitious and quiet influence felt mostly in the high-tech economic sector.  Defense growth in one of the most unlikely places – Orlando, Florida – has already begun to diversify the region’s income stream, create a new urban c  read more »

Condo Culture: How Florida Became Floridastan

Griftopia, Floridistan.jpg

Welcome to Griftopia. The Florida housing industry needs a karmic rebalancing. Our recent roar of building new structures is echoed today by the squeaks and pops of a different type of construction industry. Invasive testing – the architectural equivalent of a biopsy – seems to be on the rise. Saws, hammers, and cranes can be heard through the quiet suburban developments and subdivisions around Florida, as shingles and stucco are cut off in small patches to reveal serious problems within.  read more »

New Roller Coasters for 2011

coaster.jpg

The recession has seen many capital budgets at theme parks held back over the last few years, but even still, there are many parks building new and exciting rides all over the world. Here is a round up of some rides to get you foaming at the mouth.  read more »

Subjects:

The End of the Line: Ambitious High-speed Rail Program Hits the Buffer of Fiscal Reality

high-speed-rail-plan-usa-image.jpg

A well-intentioned but quixotic presidential vision to make high-speed rail service available to 80 percent of Americans in 25 years is being buffeted by a string of reversals. And, like its British counterpart, the London-to-Birmingham high speed rail line (HS2), it is the subject of an impassioned debate. Called by congressional leaders "an absolute disaster," and a "poor investment," the President’s ambitious initiative is unraveling at the hands of a deficit-conscious Congress, fiscally-strapped states, reluctant private railroad companies and a skeptical public.  read more »

Pollution: An Off – Road Guide to Environmental Hot Spots

Montana- the toxic Berkeley Pit.jpg

Not all pollutants are created equal, nor do they necessarily hang out in the same hot spots. Rankings of the most polluted cities — you know who you are — have become depressingly familiar. But those standings almost always represent a statistical stew of assorted toxins in the air and water, averaged together. The list that follows may surprise you: A quick look at a handful of cities, each with the unfortunate distinction of being the worst in the U.S. for a specific environmental health hazard.  read more »

Subjects:

Pimp My Stripmall, Please!

Phoenix Village Mall, Ft Smith AK.jpg

If anything characterizes the face of Florida’s landscape, it is the proliferation of shopping malls of all types. Generation by generation, as population swelled, country roads widened into highways and each intersection seemed to blossom into four parking lots framed by strip centers decorated with small, freestanding stores and restaurants. These malls represented the prosperity of the American middle class. Now that consumerism has slowed and been rechanneled online, new malls aren't being built and the existing ones are looking a bit dog-eared, with shuttered stores, empty parking lots, and aging facades. Repurposing the American mall is a huge opportunity waiting for the right moment, and represents an opportunity to heal much of Florida’s economic stagnation.  read more »

Florida Goes Underground

florida-bridge.jpg

By Richard Reep

Last year’s report that Florida had lost people marked a new low in our state’s boom-and-bust history. But this autumn’s news seems to surpass even that sorry milestone with a combination of sluggish tourism, empty state coffers, and a reputation as one of the top real estate foreclosure states. Florida just can’t seem to get out of its own way, and with the fourth highest population in the country, it could have competed with Texas to replace California as one of the best business climates in the nation. Instead, Florida, which boasts one of the lowest tax rates in the nation, continues to see businesses and citizens depart  read more »

Health Care Development in Central Florida

lakenona.jpg

By Richard Reep

In this still cooling economy, Florida seems to be continually buffeted by a perfect storm of unemployment, record foreclosures, and stagnant population growth. As the state continues to suffer, the health care industry has unfolded two planning efforts aimed at building some economic momentum.  read more »

Florida: Amendment 4 Pushes the Reset Button on Development

Florida vintage postcard-3 more payments2925909072_3d559315e9.jpg

by Richard Reep

Like a heroin addict going cold turkey, Florida appears poised to get off the growth drug this coming fall. If massive overbuilding, unemployment, depopulation, and a tourist-chasing oil slick weren’t enough, Florida’s voters are in the mood to vote yes on a referendum called Amendment 4, which would make every future change to the state’s comprehensive plan subject to voter approval, rather than be reviewed through a representative public process. The referendum capitalizes on short-term voter outrage over everything. But in the long term, Florida will likely languish in the twilight of missed opportunities as businesses relocate elsewhere to avoid risky, lengthy public campaigns to build their presence in this state.  read more »

Florida and Oil

florida-coast.jpg

By Richard Reep

Some say it took Mrs. O’Leary’s cow to make Chicago the city of great architecture that it is today: after the fire of 1871 that destroyed many of its buildings, leading citizens recognized the critical importance of their built environment. Today, we have a city that boasts some of the world’s best architecture. If BP’s oil disaster is a new millennium cow starting another conflagration, the nation may ironically benefit from seeing the ominous oil slick spreading across the gulf, spelling the end to our dependence on oil as the dominant energy source for the nation.  read more »