Florida

Health Care Development in Central Florida

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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

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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

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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 »

How Tough Times May Lead to Better Architecture

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By Richard Reep

While Ben Bernanke fantasizes about the Recovery, most people in the building industry – especially in overbuilt Florida – will correct this gross error immediately and emphatically. The recession may be over for the Fed Chairman, but unemployment in the design and construction professions is probably in the 25-30% range, matching that of the Great Depression.

Even so, tiny glimmers of light shine in what many design professionals call the “microeconomy” of building – small commercial renovations, house additions, tenant improvements, and other projects normally too small to even be counted.  read more »

New Urbanism, Smart Growth, & Andres Duany: A Critique From Suburbia

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In 1998 Hollywood introduced us to a new star when it released The Truman Show, shot on location at Seaside in Florida. No I’m not talking about Jim Carrey, Laura Linney or Ed Harris. I'm talking about none other than Andres Duany.

A few months ago, I stayed at the magnificent WaterColor Inn, which is in the neighborhood adjacent to Seaside.  read more »

Biotech Research No Silver Bullet for Florida

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By Richard Reep

Until recently, Florida was the king of growth, agriculture, and tourism. Growth – at 900 immigrants a day from other states – characterized Florida’s landscape for over 30 years, and growing cities were in perennial battle with agriculture up until the watershed year of 2009. As a tourist destination, Florida claimed world-class status, which once served the state just fine. Now, gasping for breath and facing financial uncertainty, Florida’s leadership frantically seeks a new silver bullet to create jobs, focusing on biomedical research. This focus is timely and important, and can truly move the state in a new direction, and the state leadership’s resolve to diversify the economy should stay strong, even with a short-term lack of results.  read more »

Who's Dependent on Cars? Try Mass Transit

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The Smart Growth movement has long demonstrated a keen understanding of the importance of rhetoric. Terms like livability, transportation choice, and even “smart growth” enable advocates to argue by assertion rather than by evidence. Smart Growth rhetoric thrives in a political culture that rewards the clever catchphrase over drab data analysis, but often fails to identify the risks for cities inherent in their war against “auto-dependency” and promotion of large-scale mass transit to boost the “sustainability” of communities.  read more »

Florida: From Hard Times in the Sunnier Climes

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By Richard Reep

Florida’s era of hard times continues. Last week we held a "Jobs Summit " here in Orlando but heard little but self-congratulation by politicians like Governor Charlie Crist. He praised the Legislature’s budget cuts but had little to claim when it came to reviving the economy.  read more »

Beyond Neo-Victorianism: A Call for Design Diversity

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By Richard Reep

Investment in commercial development may be in long hibernation, but eventually the pause will create a pent-up demand. When investment returns, intelligent growth must be informed by practical, organic, time-tested models that work. Here’s one candidate for examination proposed as an alternative to the current model being toyed with by planners and developers nationwide.  read more »

The Good News in Florida’s Bad Times

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By Richard Reep

2009 was ugly. A swirl of dispiriting events stalled over much of the world this year, and Florida was no exception: state depopulation and tourism decline hit the state’s only two legitimate growth industries.

Yet the bad times contain within them some good news. This end of an era meant that economic planners might finally turn to productive industries to generate jobs and revenue, just like the rest of the nation.  read more »