In the last WJCT “Business Brief,” we heard from the Northeast Florida Regional Council’s Brian Teeple about explosive commercial growth, particularly in St. Johns County.
This week, Teeple says that kind of growth requires a shift in the way we build places to live, work and shop.
As a big-picture planner, it’s his job to think about smart development in an area that’s expected to gain half-a-million people by the year 2040. He says it’s a challenge in a region of Florida that still has lots of wooded areas and agricultural land and isn’t as built out as other parts of the state.
Part of what he thinks needs to happen is more dense growth — maybe that looks like high rise condos instead of sprawling subdivisions.
“We’re going to chew up all of our agricultural land. We’re going to chew up all of our green space that isn’t fully protected,” he says. “You know, you drive down the road and you see a field or a forest, and you believe in your mind that it’s always going to be there. And if it’s in private ownership, it’s not necessarily always going to be there.”
He says denser growth could help with the development of a more robust public transit system too.
And Teeple doesn’t just think about where development should happen but also the cultural shifts that dictate the type of development people want. Take shopping malls, for example.
“It’s not simply going to the mall to buy a new pair of shoes. It’s the experience. It’s seeing, it’s being seen. And we experience that over at St. Johns Town Center,” he says, “You know, I think the day of the enclosed mall has certainly come to an end.”
Northeast Florida Regional Council CEO Brian Teeple spoke with WJCT Business Analyst John Burr.