Make us your home page
Instagram

DeWitt: Urban planning brings beauty, value

Don't underestimate the economic power of ugliness.

And don't try to tell me that good urban planning can't help prevent it.

I started thinking about this after seeing the tax revenue estimates from the property appraisers' offices in Hernando and Pasco counties.

While real estate values in other parts of the state have started to rebound nicely, in our two counties they're stuck at the bottom. At least for now.

Why?

Take a look at the U.S. 19 corridor in western Pasco that is pulling down the county average.

Or don't look. Because it hurts.

Not too long ago, I got turned around while trying to find the home of a friend in the Beacon Woods subdivision and was treated to an unwelcome tour of warehouse-like big box stores; vast, treeless parking lots, and hundreds of smaller lots with their own, individual, often pothole-riddled driveways reaching out to U.S. 19.

This has to be one reason why western Pasco not only has declining property values, but increasing rates of vacant homes and decreasing numbers of houses occupied by owners rather than renters. And why, in turn, it's become a market where chain stores that you think never close, do close — including the west Pasco Target in 2009.

If the view along U.S. 19 in Hernando is a little less painful — and it's just a little — that's partly because more of it was developed after smarter planning concepts became common: frontage roads, ordinances requiring more landscaping and the dressing up of big standalone stores.

Likewise, the regions of Pasco that are increasing in value include ones anchored by the mixed-use Trinity subdivision and the Shops of Wiregrass, "which is held out as an example of good commercial development," said chief assistant county attorney David A. Goldstein.

You might say the big factor here is age, that of course the newer the neighborhood the better it's doing.

I say — and I can think of a hundred examples — that values of well-conceived communities don't have to degrade over time.

It might all seem obvious, that appearance goes hand in hand with value. But too much of Florida was built on the assumption that we don't worry about that stuff; we have sunshine and cheap living. And when the state disbanded its Department of Community Affairs two years ago, it showed that many of us haven't learned our lesson.

Fortunately, there are signs that Pasco has. In 2011, it adopted impact fees that reward building on or near highways like U.S. 19. County planners also have written an ambitious plan to reimagine the U.S. 19 corridor that the commission could adopt before the end of the month.

There's nothing like that working in Hernando, where the commission recently dismissed the idea of an impact fee system that encourages smarter growth. In fact, it put off charging any fees at all until August 2014.

We may not be good-looking, but we sure are cheap.

DeWitt: Urban planning brings beauty, value 06/03/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 3, 2013 6:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation

    Business

    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  4. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  5. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion

    National

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]