Category: Florida

East Central Florida hosts workshop on planning for regional resilience

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Downtown Orlando, FL. Photo by Mandi Roberts of Otak, Inc.

Last month, a coalition of local leaders in Florida met with smart growth experts to confront an unusually global concern: climate change.

On September 10, thanks to a grant-funded technical assistance workshop, East Central Florida officials and residents sat down with representatives from Smart Growth America and Otak, Inc. on to focus on the topic of “cool planning.” The workshop complemented the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council’s efforts to develop and implement a Regional Resiliency Initiative (RRI) by providing the community with tools and techniques to achieve the RRI’s vision of resilient communities and economies.

In particular, the workshop examined the environmental footprint of various land-use and building practices to help Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties find ways to engage in development without accelerating climate change.

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Voters strongly support smart growth measures on Election Day 2014

bar-harbor-meMaine’s small businesses, like these in Bar Harbor, will get new help thanks to yesterday’s passage of Question 3. Photo by Duluoz via Flickr.

On Tuesday, voters across America passed statewide, county-wide, and citywide measures in support of smart growth and better development strategies. Here’s a short roundup of what passed, what failed, and what it means for community development.

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Pasco County, FL hosts workshop on revitalizing U.S. 19 corridor

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A building in New Port Richey, Florida. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.
On July 30 and 31, 2014, officials and local residents of Pasco County, FL met with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide Pasco County with tools and techniques to implement plans to revitalize the Harbors, a portion of the U.S. Route 19 corridor that follows the county’s coastline.

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Amanda Martinez is making strides to make Deerfield Beach, FL safer and more sustainable

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Deerfield Beach was the first community in the state of Florida to adopt Complete Streets guidelines in 2013, and that’s just the start of the city’s efforts to grow sustainably, encourage active transportation and make streets safer for residents. Amanda Martinez, Interim Director of the City’s Planning and Development Services Department, is finding the right partnerships and opportunities to make these changes happen with limited funds.

Deerfield Beach is a suburban community located in Broward County, FL with a population of 78,000. The beachfront city is a popular destination for both permanent and seasonal residents including the region’s senior population.

Deerfield Beach’s village feel distinguishes it from many neighboring communities, yet like much of Broward County it is essentially built out. With just three percent vacant land, the city is now looking at how to accommodate future growth through infill development and redevelopment while preserving the village quality that residents love.

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Gainesville, FL City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins on land use and economic development

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A former train station and brownfield site will become home to a restaurant, café and a flexible space for events as part of the Depot Park project in Gainesville, FL. Photo via the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

Thomas Hawkins, a Commissioner for the City of Gainesville, FL and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is helping using smart growth strategies to attract economic development while protecting Gainesville’s quality of life.

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TIGER grant has a Florida university focused on transit

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Florida International University (FIU) will soon move forward on transit-oriented development projects thanks in part to an $11.4 million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the US Department of Transportation. The grant will help fund a series of campus-area projects aiming to enhance the economic growth of FIU and the surrounding city of Sweetwater, Florida.

The University City Prosperity Project will increase transit ridership to and from campus, improve all modes of public transportation, improve pedestrian access and provide incentives to attract local businesses to the surrounding communities.

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Partnership in the News: Tampa Riverwalk nears completion thanks to TIGER grant

Tampa, Florida has begun construction on the final phase of its Riverwalk, with help from a TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 2.6 mile pedestrian walkway has been a 40 year effort for the city, spanning 6 mayors. The TIGER grant is partially funding the Riverwalk’s final segment, projected to open November 2014.

Tampa's Riverwalk and Tampa Bay Time Forum, Photo: Tampa I AmThe Riverwalk is part of Tampa’s efforts to revitalize its downtown. “This downtown you will not recognize in 10 years, said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, “and it will not end on the west bank of the river. This river will be the centerpiece of our urban experience.”

Tampa is trying to encourage a mix of uses in its downtown, developing work, retail, residential and recreational spaces. The City’s shift in urban land use has facilitated development of the downtown’s first office tower in 20 years. The energy efficient SouthGate Tower will feature office and parking space as well as a 350-room upscale hotel. Bob Abberger, managing director of the Tower’s developer, hopes the project will take advantage of Tampa’s growing business and nightlife amenities.

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Healthfields: Creating healthy communities and improving neighborhoods at the same time

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The Willa Carson Health and Wellness Center in Clearwater, FL used to be a vacant gas station.

As cities and towns seek to improve conditions for economic development, a burgeoning trend is beginning to take hold in communities around the country. Forgoing the traditional methods of pursuing private investment, some communities are instead taking a ‘health-based’ approach – identifying basic community needs like access to health care, fresh food, and safe places to gather and play and prioritizing those investments to sustain a healthy neighborhood. When these priorities are incorporated into brownfield redevelopment, the result is known as a “Healthfield,” and the concept is gaining traction with planners, health professionals and environmental advocates around the country.

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