Think Development Drives Growth? Think Again.

A recurring theme in many of the negative responses we get to our vision of Bradenton’s future is that new developments are the reason Bradenton’s population spikes and traffic increases. We feel it is important to point out that this is a common misconception; the fact of the matter is, it’s actually the other way around: it is growth that drives development.

The 2012 Census Report tells us that Bradenton grew the fastest in our region by adding 1,145 residents from the previous year… an uptick of 2.3 percent. This surge occurred despite little new housing having been built and no new lifestyle destinations (malls, parks, tourist attractions) having been developed that year. Clearly, new development was not the reason for Bradenton’s recent growth.

Our hunch is that great weather, beautiful beaches, challenging golf courses and just being an overall great place to raise a family is driving growth in the Bradenton area – and we see no end to that trend in the foreseeable future!

Far from being the problem, responsibly planned communities – like that which we envision in Lake Flores – are a necessary response to growth that is already coming. We believe that through modern, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly planning, our community will absorb those new residents and mitigate impacts on traffic and infrastructure in surrounding areas. Furthermore, our vision for Lake Flores is to provide new people spaces – parks, trails, shopping and services – that will benefit the entire community.

So, we must dispute the logic of absolute limits on development and re-double our efforts to get it right, acting on faith that the future we believe in will surely come. In the words of poet Pablo Neruda, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.

13 comments on “Think Development Drives Growth? Think Again.

  1. Ed S.

    Well I can’t wait to see all the backlash from those new homeowners when they try to get to the Beach on the weekends during season,and are sitting in traffic. Just a week ago it took over an hour to get from Longboat to Cortez after sunset when all the beach traffic was heading home. I think your plan though is commendable and well thought out except for the additional pressure on infrastructure and traffic congestion. I really don’t know how you put much more traffic through Cortez with only two lanes,oh then there is the draw bridge going up on demand backing traffic up. If I was a Commissioner I would have to vote against this plan because of the nightmare traffic situation that
    will occur!

  2. Chares Dood

    In the late 60s my family moved here from Michigan. I was four years old at the time. Once here we became a part of the “small town community” We attended Palma Sola Presbyterian Church. My mom played the organ at the famous Pete Reynard’s Restaurant, and she had a Sunday night show on WTRL Radio. I myself graduated from Palma Sola Elementary and Sugg middle school. My sisters are both Manatee High school and Manatee Community College alumni. As a resident of Palma Sola Park: I remember long walks on Palma Sola Bay beach, sailing on the bay itself on a small sail boat, and with three of us carrying the boat made of fiberglass it was an adventure! Ah yes fishing off the bridge. My older brother would dive for conch shells; we used to chase fiddler grabs. Rod and reel pier, and who can forget Coquina Beach? The fire works on the Fourth of July, Harbor House, and Trader Jacks? All these memories never left my soul. Here is one: Do you remember the bumpy road? Let those who know understand. So now turning fifty I have returned to my childhood home. We moved away in the early 80s because my mom was a professional organist. I am begging you stop the development in west manatee! I lived in Ocala for many years and watched as one horse farm after another disappeared to become a retirement project called “The Villages” or spruce creek and many others. The town once known for beautiful horse farms is now nothing more than a concrete jungle. I see the destruction of east manatee and the fruit farms and dairy farms and cattle, by the Lakewood ranch community. I also lived in Braden river ranchettes and remember riding horses to the sheriff’s arena and the arcadia rodeos. When my wife (born and raised on a horse farm in Ocala) decided to move after my oldest son graduated High School and my youngest Elementary we made the move back to Bradenton. I was so excited! Finally getting away from “The Jungle” I told them of my adventures and the memories of community and loving neighbors. How you could be at the beach one day and watching a rodeo the next. I made Bradenton to them: “The All American City.” Now I see the same destruction happening here: Long Bar Pointe, the growth of Anna Maria Island, Lakewood ranch, and now your development. I’m telling you more growth is not the answer here. First of all west manatee is only so big. Second the whole reason people come here is because they are tired of: Ft. Walton/Destin, Daytona, Miami, They like a nature filled beach. They like mangroves and banana trees. Please if you must build, build so to keep the memories, the beauty, as far as IMG well we don’t need its arrogance and wealth, enough said on that matter! In closing: A momentary wealth you may gain, can never replace the love and history of our and yours hometown.

  3. Steve

    Bradenton’s existing housing stock is old and in many places in sharp decline. County regulations do not encourage redevelopment of older neighborhoods, many of which have been taken over by shady landlords who are not responsible members of the community. Code enforcement is non existent in Manatee County. Section 8 housing is starting to pop up. As properties are allowed to decline in an area by irresponsible owners aided by negligent local government officials, more follow ( i.e. the broken window syndrome.) The proposed development looks beautiful, walkable/bikeable, environmentally responsible, family oriented and man,we are extremely lucky the Preston family are members of this community. West Bradenton is very fortunate to have this planned community. Every other County in this State would do anything have a new community like this.

  4. Jeff

    I think the development plans are the shot in the arm this community needs. You are correct when you say growth is coming, with or without this community. The boost to the economy in the area will give the government the funds it needs to modernize and improve our infrastructure, making traffic and other concerns a moot point. Traffic is bad already, this growth will force the government to improve an already bad situation, while at the same time giving them the funds to do so. Lets get started!

  5. M G.

    What type of mixture of homes do you plan? I am wondering if you plan any single family homes from the $110K to $150K range. Affordable housing for lower income families would greatly benefit our community.

    Thanks, Mara

    1. Admin

      Thank you for taking the time to comment about the information we’ve provided on the website.
      At the present time, we have submitted a general development plan which is not specific to what will eventually be constructed.
      Given the size and the length of time over which the community will be built, we envision the will be a wide variety of housing types and price ranges.
      Thank you again for your interest.

  6. Jeff R.

    This is more like a real estate sales brochure or travel pamphlet than a forum for serious discussion about what to do with the property. If Whiting Preston is so concerned with doing the right thing, he should donate a large tract to Manatee county for something other than housing development. If you are going to develop it with 6000 homes just do it and stop trying to convince us that growth in this area won’t impact traffic. 6000 new homes does not mitigate traffic, as you suggest.

    1. Admin

      Thank you for sharing your concerns about traffic. To clarify, we are not suggesting Lake Flores will mitigate traffic in West Bradenton. In fact, while our property has been continuously farmed over many decades, traffic has increased. With almost no impact from our property, traffic seems to be a problem for many residents in the area. Perhaps the traffic congestion is related to aging infrastructure that has not kept up with growth or lack of alternative modes of transportation to and from popular destinations such as downtown and the beaches. Our point about a mixed-use plan is that traffic impacts are minimized when housing is combined with places of employment and services all within a master planned community that promotes walkability and transportation options other than an automobile.

      1. Judy S.

        We live directly adjacent to the property and your comment about traffic problems is not true as far as we are concerned. Yes, when the snowbirds are here you can see the difference, but not such much it is a big issue. That being said, once your development gets kicked off, the existing roads will certainly no longer accomodate the increase in vehicles that will be part of that process. El Conquistador especially, with only two lanes at 30 mph, will become a real bottleneck. And we don’t look forward to additional roundabouts on 75th Street between 53rd and Cortez!

        1. Admin

          We respect your opposing view on our plan. However, we strongly believe as stated in the article, that a mixed use pedestrian friendly community will cause many fewer external automobile trips than a traditional suburban plan. Our plan of roundabouts will slow the traveling speed on 75th Street which we advocate for the safety of the residents in Lake Flores. Several alternative roads will be constructed that will permit travel parallel to 75th.

  7. Leonard E.

    The reason more people are moving here with very little new housing being built is because of all the foreclosed empty homes in the area. And who are thos people moving here. Most likely retired persons. People, like myself, that don’t care about growth and development. We left those problems behind up north when we came here.

  8. Kathy

    This is so slanted toward development – shame on you for “packing” the questionnaire. If you keep developing on the water, we WILL LOSE our beautiful bay. Protect it and future generations will have it to enjoy as well! They won’t appreciate OR NEED more housing – within 2 generations there will be many empty homes – our population will be going DOWN!!!!! This is very short-sighted – SELFISH – dare I say GREEDY!!!!!

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