PLANNING FOR THE “RE-CENTURY”
“Reinvesting, rebuilding, revitalizing, redeveloping and re-engineering. We live in the ‘re-century’,” suggests William Hudnut, Senior Resident Fellow, Urban Land Institute. Hudnut said these times bring about “gargantuan” business opportunities for redevelopment and infill projects.
Most want to take advantage of these opportunities, but the question is how? Johnson Engineering supports those who choose to regulate and develop projects in redevelopment areas. We have walked the walk ourselves, having reinvested in a new corporate headquarters building, where we have been operating for 63 years. Our planners, engineers, and landscape architects know from experience the unique challenges and opportunities associated with redevelopment. We see these challenges as opportunities in disguise.
Opportunity #1: Redevelopment projects must be a product of participatory planning and consensus building, since they bring change to an established community. Those living and working within redevelopment areas offer a wealth of knowledge as their collaborative ideas help officials and developers understand the opportunities that would best suit the area. The Fort Myers Downtown Riverfront Plan is an example of a public-private partnership, developed to invigorate the waterfront area with new businesses, public amenities, and water management system. To assist with plan development and availability of public funding, Johnson Engineering planners and engineers worked closely with the Acquest Development team, Populous, Parker Mudgett Smith Architects, stakeholders and agency representatives. The plan was adopted by City Council on September 8, 2009 and should be implemented throughout the next year.
Opportunity #2: Redevelopment projects can be riskier than new construction projects, due to site-specific context within built-up areas, with limited comparables. Adhering to regulations originally established for new development is challenging, causing developers to steer away from pursuing redevelopment opportunities. The feasibility of redevelopment projects must be carefully examined to consider all opportunities to reduce exposure for redevelopers.
With more than 49 years of combined experience, our planning experts help prepare language in plans and Land Development Codes, helping bring projects to fruition, with incentives and predictability. Our experts also assist with redevelopment strategies and schedules to maximize the benefits of local, state and federal grant resources.
We are working closely with the City of Fort Myers to draft amendments to the Cleveland Avenue Overlay zoning standards within the Land Development Code. This will provide a framework to encourage redevelopment within the Cleveland Avenue Redevelopment Area. Using local initiatives, Land Development Code incentives, federal funding and leveraging mechanisms, a series of opportunities can unfold to make a challenging project a reality.
Opportunity #3: National legislation and Florida Growth Management Law set the stage for the “re-century” with programs and policies focusing on sustainable development practices. Redevelopment and infill projects are poised to satisfy mandates for a built environment that performs more efficiently, reduces adverse impacts to natural resources, and reduces suburban sprawl.
By their location and design, redevelopment and infill projects can reduce vehicle miles traveled, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and can promote alternative transportation modes and use of alternative energy. Such projects support the objectives of Florida House Bill 697. This bill requires local comprehensive plans to include energy-efficient land use patterns and greenhouse gas reduction strategies. These projects can take advantage of relief from Transportation Concurrency Exception Area designations initiated by Senate Bill 360, impact fee credits or exemptions, and tax credits. These redevelopment projects can also score points toward achieving LEED certification and Florida Green Development designation.
We would like to share our knowledge and creativity to help your next redevelopment project. Contact Planning Director Christine Hurley at 239.461.3316 or [email protected].
ECOLOGISTS NOW AUTHORIZED GOPHER TORTOISE AGENTS
Johnson Engineering ecologists, Bill Brammell, John Curtis, and Christopher Stephens received their Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent Permits from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). In November 2007 the FWC reclassified the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as a threatened species and revised the gopher tortoise permitting guidelines in April 2009. The new permitting guidelines provide incentives for relocating tortoises to managed lands that have long term conservation value. In addition to permitting tortoise relocations, the revised guidelines authorize gopher tortoise agents to be who are responsible for surveying, capturing, handling, and transporting gopher tortoises. Currently, our team is permitting a 90-acre gopher tortoise recipient site in Florida.
As authorized relocation agents our ecologists accurately represent FWC policies, guidelines, and rules to the general public and specifically to their clients. Only authorized agents will be allowed to survey for and relocate tortoises on project sites with more than 10 burrows. Agents will have access to a streamlined online permitting process, for certain gopher tortoise permit approvals. The overall goal of the new permitting system is to restore and maintain secure, viable gopher tortoise populations throughout the species current range in Florida. For more information on gopher tortoise relocations in the Southwest Florida area, contact John Curtis at 239.461.2462, or in the Tampa Bay area, contact Bill Brammell at 813.909.8099, or e-mail [email protected].
LEEDING THE WAY
LEED certification for new construction is becoming more widespread throughout Florida. Johnson Engineering’s LEED professionals have witnessed this first hand with the growing number of Southwest Florida projects that are seeking their LEED certification. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as a rating system for green buildings that promotes sustainable development through accepted tools and performance criteria.
Johnson Engineering has been involved with the following LEED projects in Lee County:
- Six Mile Cypress Slough Interpretive Center, Fort Myers – Lee County’s first LEED Silver Certified commercial building
- First Community Bank at the Forum, Fort Myers – submittal under review, Silver Certification anticipated
- Northern Trust at Reflection Lakes, Fort Myers – submittal under review, Silver Certification anticipated
- Florida Gulf Coast University, Fine Arts #2 Building (School of Music) – under construction, Silver Certification anticipated
- Florida Gulf Coast University, Academic Building #7 (Science Building) – under construction, will be powered by FGCU Solar Array Field, Platinum Certification anticipated
All projects registered after June 26, 2009 will fall under the new LEED v3 Rating System. Projects already registered under LEED v2.2 may continue under that system, or transfer to the new rating system, free of charge, through January 1, 2010. After January 1, 2010 there will be a registration fee to switch systems. A project registered under v2.2, may find the v3 rating system is more advantageous after performing an analysis and comparing both systems.
Johnson Engineering currently has three LEED accredited professionals, from various market groups, who assist clients with their sustainable needs. They include: Amy Wicks, P.E. (surface water engineer); David Hoffman, P.G. (hydrogeologist); and Erik Howard, P.E. (utilities engineer.)
NEW INCENTIVES FOR LANDOWNERS
Are you a landowner in the State of Florida? If so, you should be aware of the recently passed Amendment 4 that amended the Florida Constitution, requiring the State Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for property under perpetual conservation protection. This applies to property taxes beginning in 2010.
The measure provides a positive incentive for private landowners to engage in conserving Florida’s native habitats. Johnson Engineering can evaluate and assess the ecological value of your land, prepare the required surveys, legal descriptions and title recordings. For information please contact Church Roberts at 239.461.2464 or [email protected].
REAL ESTATE PORTFOLIO SERVICES
Johnson Engineering has expanded our services to include assisting lenders with their special assets and distressed loans. We are working with lenders to help identify the current status of their real estate portfolio as it relates to permitting, plan preparation, and construction close out. These services include:
- Permit Compliance – Review and analysis of existing distressed properties to determine status of permitting and plans preparation.
- Consult with and assist lenders with permit extensions and/or project completion procedures.
- Survey – Provide ALTA surveys for closings.
- Due Diligence – Provide due diligence package on existing portfolio. Easy to understand report of property zoning and engineering characteristics.
- Construction Consulting – Provide site construction completion estimates and consultation. Perform field reviews of existing sites to determine status of construction.
For more information on how Johnson Engineering can assist with your real estate portfolio in the Tampa Bay area, contact Steve Shaw, P.E. at 813.909.8099,, or in the Southwest Florida area, contact Kevin Winter, P.E. at 239.461.2473, or e-mail [email protected].
People & Projects: ON THE MOVE
David Trouteaud, P.E., Utilities team project manager, has earned his State of Florida Professional Engineering (P.E.) license.
Erik Howard, P.E., Utilities team project manager, has become a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional.
Amy Wicks, P.E., Surface water engineer, earned her masters in Environmental Engineering – Water Resources Planning and Management; and has become a LEED accredited professional.
GREEN FUTURES EXPO & ENTERY OPTIONS CONFERENCE
November 1-2, 2009
Visit our booth at the Green Futures Expo on Sunday, November 1st at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, Port Charlotte, Florida.
The Green Futures Expo is a tradeshow designed to highlight the products and services that will benefit consumers and businesses for a future of green living. The Energy Options Conference on Monday, November 2nd will bring worldwide representatives from the alternative energy industry, for participants to discuss the future of the industry, current issues, policies, and market strategies in several panel discussions.
Johnson Engineering supports Charlotte County’s initiatives to bring environmentally friendly businesses and manufacturing to this area.
For more information on this conference visit www.charlottecountyfl.com/BCS/GreenFutures or contact Mary Ann Grey at 941.743.1245, [email protected].