Tag: Florida

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

deerfield-beach

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

Gainesville, FL's Depot Park
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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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

Willa Cather Center
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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Small places with big goals win national awards for smart growth achievement


Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America (left) with representatives from seven communities honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

On Wednesday evening in a hearing room on Capitol Hill, the winners of this year’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement gathered to discuss how their projects are helping their communities become better places to live and work.

The awards this year went to projects that have improved streets, redeveloped historic buildings, built new homes and stores in the heart of downtown, created better transportation choices and more. And though the projects are all very different from one another, none would have been possible without community support and collaboration.

“That’s the word of the day, partnerships,” said Kenneth Chandler, former City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, VA. Portsmouth’s comprehensive overhaul of the city’s development and land use regulations won it the Programs and Policies award. Portsmouth’s new codes are already creating a more livable and pedestrian-friendly city with opportunities for economic development and reinvestment.

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Multitude of Unfunded TIGER Grant Applications Points to Need for Continued Funding

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to invest in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Now in its fourth round, the program remains critically underfunded. DOT received 703 applications, totaling $10.2 billion in requests. Out of those, 47 projects were selected to receive a total of close to $500 million.

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Charlotte, Tampa to showcase smart growth features at this year’s political conventions


The Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Bay, FL, overlooking the Tampa Riverwalk, will host this year’s Republican National Convention. Photo by Flickr user Judy Malley.

Republicans and Democrats alike will be enjoying the benefits of smart growth strategies later this summer as both parties prepare for their respective conventions.

The Republican National Convention will take place in late August at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a 670,000 sq. ft. arena that’s normally home to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The arena overlooks the scenic Hillsborough River and the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile riverfront walkway that connects the Forum with restaurants, shops and parks in the area.

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Southeast Florida’s seven counties join to draft 50-year plan for sustainable development


Hundreds of urban planners, civic figures, public officials and activists in Southeast Florida are working together to help better achieve the region’s multiple development goals.

The South Florida Regional Planning Council, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, and hundreds of volunteers and residents, have come together to create a plan that addresses the common issues of the Southeast Florida super-region. The Seven50 Southeast Florida Prosperity Plan, now in its initial phase, will work with seven counties in South Florida to create a plan for growth over the next 50 years.

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Partnership in the News: New TIGER grant will help complete Tampa Riverwalk

In the most recent round of TIGER grants announced last week, the City of Tampa, Florida will receive $11 million to finish its Riverwalk project. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the grant, awarded by U.S. DOT through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, will help fix two gaps in the walkway in a section of downtown Tampa where crashes between cars, cyclists and pedestrians are common. The 2.6-mile walkway along the Hillsborough River will also be connected to a 1.7-mile multi-use trail, which will create pedestrian and bike connections to bus and streetcar lines.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Tampa, Florida

Q&A with Randy Goers, Urban Planning Coordinator for the City of Tampa, Florida, Land Development Coordination Division (HUD Community Challenge Grant Recipient) and Smart Growth America.

Smart Growth America: What is the goal of this project?
Randy Goers: The objective of our project is to establish a vision for development in and around downtown, as well as to develop a plan for growth around a major transportation corridor. Like many communities that have grown significantly in recent years, we’ve been reacting to growth and approving it as it comes in. We’re pretty much built out, so new development will be along our corridors. Numerous agencies have to be a part of the approval process, which slows it down and adds costs. In some instances, the added time and costs can be substantial. Then there is also conflict when new development bumps against preexisting residential or historic neighborhoods.

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