Sunday, January 29, 2017

Developer catharthis and confession begins

Two big developers think people in St. Augustine and St. Johns County are pro-development? On what theory? (As Henry Kissinger once hollered at a bad referee call at a football game. Does "here" refer to Jacksonville or Northeast Florida? Where are the probing followup questions?

Posted January 29, 2017 06:25 am - Updated January 29, 2017 06:44 am
Two giants of land development industry share their thoughts on future

Gerald Hines and Peter Rummell have been part of some of the most successful developments in the country, and they have combined for about a century’s worth of experience in the business.

The two legends of the industry visited the Urban Land Institute of North Florida meeting Monday in Jacksonville.

Hines started his namesake firm in 1957 in Houston. Among his projects are Palencia and the recently opened Markland residential developments in St. Johns County.

Rummell started with the Sea Pines Company in 1971. The company developed Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Amelia Island. He later became general manager at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach and served as chairman and CEO of the St. Joe Company.

Now Rummell is the lead developer of The District, a 30-acre development on the Southbank in Jacksonville.

Both men are still sought-after experts in the field, and they spent some time talking about what they see as current trends and what will be coming in the future.

Here are their thoughts on several topics brought up at the meeting:

n On the changes they have seen:

Rummell: “Amazing what’s happened. And my personal sense is, ‘We ain’t seen nothing yet.’ The next 15 years are going to be even more dramatic in terms of what’s going to happen.”

n On the future of personal transportation:

Hines: “I think how we handle the automobile (is key). We’ve got some huge learning problems to solve for each of us. And I think that is going to be one of the big challenges that we’ll be facing.

“I think land in major cities is becoming harder to come by, and I think building in these cities like New York and Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, these are tough cities to work in. Going before these zoning boards — not easy.

“The non-development section of the population is high and getting stronger — and that’s not just California. It’s other places. I don’t think in Jacksonville that would be the case.”

Rummell: “I think there is a hunger for growth. As opposed to San Francisco, which is the extreme opposite. I think there is a general sense here that growth is positive. I think that is incredibly important. It seeps into the ethos of the city. Houston’s been that way for a long time.”

n On the concept of healthy living and age-restricted communities:

Rummell: “I think if you can design a place where a 30-year-old can live near a 70-year-old and make it affordable for both, then you’ve got something.”

Hines: “I think that is the way that we’re heading. They enjoy each other.”

n On what drives people to one community or another:

Hines: “I think the strong motivation for the parent to have a good school system near them is so strong that we don’t see that being violated very many times. Unless you have good transportation that can take them to a good school and be well organized.”

n On the Florida market in general:

Hines: “We have teams in Miami. We teams throughout Florida, and we’re quite positive and optimistic on Florida. We’ve been very successful here and want to continue that.”

n On parking and how it fits into development:

Hines: “Parking will continue to be a major factor, although I see that there’s going to be more people that will use Uber and other means of transportation. I see it in New York. It’s very evident in these high (population) areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago. I think it will come to cities such as Jacksonville and Houston eventually. “

Rummell: “I think that’s right. And one of the things I don’t understand is the impact of autonomous vs. Uber. What is car ownership going to be 10 years from now? So from a developer’s point of view how many cars do you have to build spaces for vs. just having room to pull up.

“That has a massive impact on … the project we’re planning here (in Jacksonville) we’re building parking garages and you want to plan parking garages for conversion uses, and that’s expensive because you’ve got to do things up front. It gets very complicated.”
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7 minutes ago
Carpetbaggers, bulldozing and paving their way across the land, a thousand acres at a time.

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