Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Anti-redevelopment Post on LWM and my Response:

Everyone should be thanking all of those people who worked so hard to save this park from developers and the Commission that wanted this to occur. 

A quote from Laurence McNamara speaking on saving Old Bridge Park: 
Quote:
If we hadn't, the glut of unsold and foreclosed properties would be even greater. We met the head of condo assoc from Courtyards of Lake Worth. He told us there were 12-15 foreclosures there out of 51 townhomes and that the majority of occupied units were renters. 


That's the reality. Lets work diligently to clean up what we have, refurbish what we have--not build new townhouses and condos. TOD's are not the priority either. We need to get down to reality right now. This is serious. Forget about the dreams until we fix what we have. Spending another 6 million on 10th Avenue North should not be a top choice for any commissioner to focus on.

MY RESPONSE:

For a very long time, the northeast corner of Columbia Drive and N. Dixie Hwy was an abandoned car dealership, acres of asphalt, no landscaping - what was were weeds-, dark buildings which housed all sorts of criminal and unsavory activity. The property butts up against the Spillway Park and Maryland Drive, consisting of single family zoning. 

If you hadn't noticed, the building boom that we experienced over the past 5 years was a national and international phenomenon (google Spain Housing Market). 

What is there now contributes much more to the tax base (actually the CRA TIF capture) than what was there. The unsavory and criminal activity is gone and not affecting the adjacent neighborhood. I happen to live a block away from the Courtyards and it is a good neighbor. 

Prior to it being redeveloped, the developer presented the plans before the neighborhood association and they agreed with the concept and suggested changes which were incorporated into the plan. 

Foreclosures are another national trend and especially so in the South Florida area. There is nothing unique about the Courtyards that would make it more prone to foreclosures, other than people not having enough income to cover their mortgage. As for renters in townhouses, it is a fact of life. Townhouses are governed by a HOA that takes care of outside maintenance so the impact of renters "not being proud of their homes" is not as much of an issue as it is in single family neighborhoods. 

So, while not perfect, the property is much better now that it otherwise would have been had not the Courtyards been developed. We were able to capitalize on the market at the time and improve the area.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

FYI, Braman Honda was also an identified "brownfield" site -- indicating that it potentially contained groundwater pollution from years of auto maintenance use that could eventually have spread into the neighborhood. That was cleaned up before the townhouses were built. The benefits of environmental "clean up" should be included in any calculation of the benefits of redevelopment. I certainly would not encourage premature development (i.e., where public services are not presently available), but LW is not in that category. Capitalism has boom & bust cycles. College Park's development pattern refects the boom of the 20s, the bust of the 30s, the Post-War boom of the 50s and now the bust of the 00s. The next gebneration will acclaim the diversity of our housing stock and wonder why the City did not experience more redevelopment during one of the greatest development "booms" in US history (probaly just before they go into the next bust).

Wes Blackman said...

Very good point. Florida has been, is and will be part of the boom and bust cycle in development. The challenge is to do what you can during a period of increased real estate investment to make your community a better place to live in the longer term.

Another startling example of before and after is the 6th Avenue South and Federal Hwy intersection. What was there was a breeding ground for crime and was the working definition of slum. That area is not in the CRA district, so the full impact of the tax base increase goes directly to the general fund. The Cloisters represents the refinement of the code in response to some issues faced in earlier projects.

You are right. Lake Worth could have taken greater advantage of that period. In many ways, our other quality of life issues, city image and poor reputation with our utilities worked against us.