Author Archives: Palmetto Companies

Lake Flores Receives 2016 Outstanding Development Award

Award-BFFor the second consecutive year, Lake Flores has been recognized by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) for being an exceptional community. The proposed Manatee County community was named as the 2016 Outstanding Development at an awards luncheon in Jacksonville on June 3rd. In presenting the award, FPZA committee members praised Lake Flores’ public outreach efforts and its strong design emphasis on walkability. Last year, Lake Flores was honored by the same group as the 2015 Outstanding Planning Project.

“On behalf of the entire Lake Flores team, I’m honored to receive this award and especially pleased to be recognized for a second year,” said Whiting Preston, whose family owns the land and who has headed efforts to develop the Lake Flores vision. “Our team has been working very hard to move forward with our plans, and we appreciate the time and expertise of countless individuals who have contributed to our progress.”

Peninsula Bay Hosts Community Workshop

PBay_Pres_Photos_1Peninsula Bay recently hosted a community workshop to provide an opportunity for neighbors of the property to meet the development team and ask questions. Whiting Preston spoke to the crowd and told the story of his family’s long-time ownership of the land and their stewardship through farming. He described their desire to create a community that will connect people to the water and create a sustainable, livable neighborhood that will benefit the entire region.

PBay_Pres_Photos_3Other members of the development team met directly with attendees to share details of the site plan, explain the steps the project is taking to protect and enhance the environment, and discuss some of the desirable attributes that Peninsula Bay is planned to include, such as open spaces, walking trails and a marina.

The Peninsula Bay team would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend this event –
we appreciate your interest and feedback!

Compatible Communities

Streetscape - 2Peninsula Bay believes in being a good neighbor, and we look forward to continuing to be a part of the Cortez community. Our development is planned to complement existing neighborhoods with an emphasis on open spaces, Old Florida inspired architecture and a density below that which is allowed by county standards. Strategic buffering and roadside greenery will offer privacy while enhancing the view from multiple perspectives. We envision Peninsula Bay as having a friendly ambience that is very much in keeping with the charm and character of nearby Anna Maria Island. Peninsula Bay will offer amenities for dining and recreation that will be enjoyed not only by our residents, but also by those in the surrounding communities. It’s our goal for Peninsula Bay to be an active and contributing member of Cortez as well as offer new opportunities to enjoy the Florida lifestyle.

SWTIF: What It is and Why It Matters

Few people outside of government have likely heard of the new Southwest Tax Increment Financing District, also known as SWTIF, but its potential impact could provide significant benefits to many residents of Manatee County. Generally speaking, it is a program to revitalize one of the oldest business and residential districts in the county by setting aside a portion of increases in ad valorem taxes from new developments and the appreciation of existing real estate. SW_TIFSWTIF encompasses over 25,000 acres and more than 24,000 households in a region that is loosely defined by Manatee Avenue, US 301, the southern boundary of Manatee County, and Palma Sola Bay. Plans call for SWTIF to primarily fund projects related to public safety, transportation, and small business rehabilitation.

Peninsula Bay is expected to be among the largest contributors to SWTIF. As the new neighborhoods are developed, a portion of the property taxes they generate will likely be used for SWTIF projects, which may include building sidewalks and bicycle lanes, enhancing street lighting and storm sewers, or improving roadways.

Other similar programs are already operating successfully in the county, including three TIF districts in Bradenton and one in Palmetto. SWTIF is expected to raise tens of millions of dollars over its 30-year lifetime.

Traffic and Bradenton’s Future

The county’s roadways have changed over the years, and we are confident that changes will continue to occur in the decades ahead. Traffic is increasing as a result of the county’s growing population and success as a tourism destination. As the county continues to market the islands and their beaches, we will certainly see an increase in tourism, which is necessary to sustain the local economy and jobs market. If properly managed, this can be a positive thing, as compared to other areas that are suffering population declines and falling tourism.

bike-laneAccording to the Urban Land Institute (ULI), national trends for new developments reveal a growing demand for communities near active transportation trails, primarily those devoted to walking and bicycling. As people move away from dependency on automobiles, they are moving towards cycling, walking and using public transport. Studies show that Americans are driving few miles, buying more bicycles than cars and trucks combined, and are joining bike-sharing programs in record numbers.

Some experts believe there is a real opportunity for residential developments to tie into the active transportation trend. As the ULI noted, nearly 43% of journeys in the U.S. are less than three miles and 52% of Americans would like to live in a community where they are not reliant on cars for transportation. As communities invest in alternative forms of transportation, development trends will continue to grow in this direction and potentially have significant impact on traffic patterns.

A solution will need to be reached in regard to the aging Cortez Bridge, hopefully one that safely accommodates different modes of transportation like biking and walking and allows for a mass transit lane to reduce car traffic over the bridge. As part of the approval process with Manatee County, we completed a traffic study to predict the potential traffic impact of the proposed Peninsula Bay development. This study revealed that the majority of Peninsula Bay traffic will be headed inland, rather than out to the beach. It is our hope that the county would use some of the tax revenue collected from our development to provide bicycle lanes along Cortez Road.

kayaking-mangrovesWe are committed to doing our part to help address traffic concerns. As an example, Peninsula Bay will offer alternative modes of transportation such as walking trails, bicycle lanes in the roadways, and boating via the marina. Our community will have amenities such as on-site dining and a kayak launch that will allow residents to pursue recreation within walking distance of their homes. Peninsula Bay looks forward to being part of the conversation and an active partner in promoting innovative solutions.

Responsible Building and Environmental Impact

Our plan for Pen Bay includes significant accommodations to protect and improve the property’s ecosystems, such as removing invasive plant species, refraining from trimming mangroves, and conserving native uplands. We will create additional open spaces that will be visible from Cortez Road to create permanent greenery along the roadway. Instead of building right to the edge of Palma Sola Bay, we are creating a 67-acre lake that will serve as a buffer for the natural shoreline. Overall water quality will improve, thanks to future investments in modern stormwater infrastructure and improved flushing of stagnant waterways as a result of our marina construction. Peninsula Bay will also include amenities that will boardwalkencourage our residents to stay on-site for dining and relaxation, and serve the community at large with beautiful water views and opportunities for boating and other recreation.

Development is an important part of our local economy. The key is to ensure that it is done in a smart, balanced and responsible manner. There are strict guidelines and codes already in place that we will follow as we move forward. In fact, our project will meet a much higher standard of development than what is currently in place on adjacent properties. Although we are allowed to build to a higher density level, we are voluntarily choosing to build fewer units because we believe it will be a better fit with the village atmosphere of the surrounding community.

An Opportunity For Revitalization

retail-cafe2Revitalization can be a tough job. It’s particularly difficult when a region is divided into discordant parcels or neighborhoods. Manatee County is fortunate to have several sites of significant size that can be developed under a balanced vision and potentially spark additional revitalization. In fact, the area surrounding Peninsula Bay has been previously identified by county officials as one in need of new streams of investment and tax dollars.

Peninsula Bay will transform farmland into a vibrant community with opportunities for community access that will generate jobs and add to the tax base to support government services. The neighborhood will include housing of varied values to appeal to potential visitors as well as seasonal and full-time residents. New-home construction in a bayfront or coastal community is rare in southwest Florida, and it is our hope that Peninsula Bay will serve as a catalyst for future investment and responsible development in the area.

Real Estate Is Leveraging Investments in Active Transportation Infrastructure

Active-Transportation-and-Real-Estate-The-Next-Frontier-1“Infrastructure drives our real estate investments. Investments in highways led to auto-oriented development. Investment in public transit led to development next to transit stops and rail stations. Now we are starting to see trail-oriented development,” commented Edward McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute as he explained why new real estate projects were springing up alongside urban bike trails.

The trend for new development near active transportation trails and the increased willingness of developers and cities to create communities tailored to those who would rather cycle than drive is the topic of the recently published ULI report titled Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier.

McMahon argued that these active transportation trails and the subsequent associated development were a response to the very real trend of people moving away from using privately owned cars and toward cycling, walking, and using public transit. He highlighted that Americans were driving 8 percent fewer miles than a decade ago and that residents in transit-rich cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., now owned an average of less than one car per household. In addition, in 2014 Americans bought more bicycles (18.1 million) than cars and trucks combined (16.4 million). Not only is bike ownership on the rise, but so are bike-share schemes, which have grown in popularity from only seven in the world in 2002 to 750 globally today, including 70 in the United States.

Roswell Eldridge, chief operating officer of Toole Design Group, highlighted the opportunity for further growth in active transportation, since 43 percent of journeys undertaken in the United States were three miles (5 km) or less. Strong potential demand also exists for trail-oriented development, with 52 percent of Americans wanting to live in a community where they were not reliant on cars for transportation. This trend is being driven by millennials, with 45 percent of this demographic intentionally choosing not to drive and actively seeking out other modes of transportation.

Tadd Miller, chief executive officer of Milhaus, a developer that has built $250 million of developments along trails in Indianapolis alone over the past five years, argues that the trend is here to stay. “Finally at a point with shared mobility, where the financial benefit is there, the infrastructure is catching up and we finally have a demographic and age bracket that is accepting of it.”

– Urban Land Institute, April 2016

Being A Good Neighbor

PennBayAerialOur community outreach campaign began some time before Lake Flores was announced and continues today as we present our plans for Peninsula Bay. Along the way, more than a few people have asked us why we do it. The answer is simple: it is the neighborly thing to do.

Dating back to the 1970’s, the Preston family has gladly lent a hand to its neighbors when called upon, making available the land for the Fire Station at 102nd Street and the lift station for Sunny Shores and Sagamore Estates, as well as the water pumping station for Anna Maria Island. In addition, the family dedicated the right-of-way for 119th Street and its connection to Harbor Landing Estates.

Over the years, as the aerial view of Peninsula Bay illustrates, all manner of developments have taken root around our land, much of it without concern for limiting density, protecting the environment, or preserving the local character. By contrast, the current rules and regulations for developing our land at Peninsula Bay will be far stricter and more comprehensive than anything that has come before us.

But we strongly agree that growth needs to be smarter and more considerate of the environment and the character of special places such as ours. We are stewards of our land, after all, and we welcome the challenge, as we are transforming our family’s history into its legacy for generations to come.

So we reach out not only to learn from others, but also to share our perspective as longtime residents and property owners at Lake Flores and Peninsula Bay. Because, though many things around us have changed over fifty years, the importance of being a good neighbor remains the same.