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 »
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 »
The week’s debate about high-speed rail has once again polarized our populace, inflamed irrationality, and sent everyone back to their familiar corners. Little constructive debate is possible when major newspapers are flailing the governor for rejecting money and the seemingly global revolutionary fervor is gripping local citizens who rallied in protest Wednesday night around downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola. None of this will do any good for the service workers trying to get to their jobs in the theme parks or for downtown cube dwellers streaming to scattered office parks. read more »
Florida's Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail project could be barreling down the tracks toward taxpayer obligations many times the $280 million currently advertised. That is the conclusion of my Reason Foundation report, The Tampa to Orlando High-Speed Rail Project: Florida Taxpayer Risk Assessment. read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
For the past decade a large coterie of pundits, prognosticators and their media camp followers have insisted that growth in America would be concentrated in places hip and cool, largely the bluish regions of the country.
Since the onset of the recession, which has hit many once-thriving Sun Belt hot spots, this chorus has grown bolder. The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently identified the "Next Youth-Magnet Cities" as drawn from the old "hip and cool" collection of yore: Seattle, Portland, Washington, New York and Austin, Texas. read more »
By Richard Reep
“In hard times, people turn to God or alcohol” jokes Bud Johnson of Constructwire, a database that tracks planning and construction projects nationwide. Johnson, 50, is an industry veteran and has never seen a recession like this in his career. “This is an exceptionally broad-based downturn,” he says, “and Orlando has been hit harder than most in the South, what with your only real industries being housing and tourism.” Both industries have been trapped like mammoths in a glacier as the credit market stays stubbornly frozen in a modern banking Ice Age. read more »
Among the media, academia and within planning circles, there’s a generally standing answer to the question of what cities are the best, the most progressive and best role models for small and mid-sized cities. The standard list includes Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver. In particular, Portland is held up as a paradigm, with its urban growth boundary, extensive transit system, excellent cycling culture, and a pro-density policy. These cities are frequently contrasted with those of the Rust Belt and South, which are found wanting, often even by locals, as “cool” urban places.
But look closely at these exemplars and a curious fact emerges. If you take away the dominant Tier One cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles you will find that the “progressive” cities aren’t red or blue, but another color entirely: white. read more »