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


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


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


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


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


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 »

The Decade of the South: The New State Population Estimates


Much has been made – particularly in the Northeastern press – of the slowing down of migration to the South and West as a result of the recession. But in many ways this has obfuscated the longer term realities that will continue to drive American demographics for the coming decade.  read more »

Will New Urbanists Deliver A Home-Win With Miami 21?

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By Richard Reep

“A walkable city, more like… Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco,” is how The Miami Herald characterizes the future of Miami under Miami 21, the new form-based code adopted on October 22nd by the Miami City Commission. This seems to be the hot new dream not just of Miami, but of all cities struggling under corruption and greed, codes and regulations, with an imagined underground urbanity, yearning to breathe free. Citizens may now expect to see Miami remodeled after cities that grew before the car came, but the lyrics to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” echo in the minds of some: “Meet the new boss…same as the old boss.”  read more »

Florida Drifts Into the Morass


By Richard Reep

Regarding Florida’s new outmigration, “A lot of people are glad the merry-go-round has finally stopped. It was exhausting trying to keep up with 900 new people a day. Really, there is now some breathing room,” stated Carol Westmorland, Executive Director of the Florida Redevelopment Association at the Florida League of Cities. Now that surf and sand are officially unpopular, the urban vs. suburban development debate has caught developers and legislators in a freeze frame of ugly and embarrassing poses at local, regional, and state levels.  read more »

Live by the Specialty, Die by the Specialty


By Richard Reep

Regions have a bad habit of getting into ruts. This is true of any place that focuses exclusively on one industry – with the possible exception of the federal government, which keeps expanding no matter what. This reality is most evident in places like Detroit, but it also applies to one like Orlando, whose tourist-based economy has been held up as a post-industrial model.  read more »