The 8th Annual Gainesville Real Estate Forum took place on January 26 at the Gainesville Women’s Club. This year’s real estate forum was a debate-style forum and held two debates. The first was on transportation and the second dealt with land development regulations.
“Industrial is the new multi-family,” said Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and broker, Blaine Strickland. Investors are geared towards industrial units because they are attracted to the steady absorption that comes with it, Strickland said. Although the recent interest rates have increased, it has not had an extremely harmful effect.
There are three important aspects of transportation that people often do not regard: safety, access and land use, said Policy and Planning Director for 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc., Thomas Hawkins.
“Frankly, transportation is dangerous,” Hawkins said, emphasizing the importance of transportation security.
Concerning access issues, a 2016 study from the American Automobile Association stated that the average yearly driving costs exceeded $9,000, Hawkins said. This is really expensive so the question becomes, how can we provide accessible transportation?
Additionally, the vast majority of people live in an area that is not supported by a bus route, said Vice President and Director of Planning for CHW Professional Consultants, Gerry Dedenbach. Where we build roads determines where cities grow, Hawkins said.
“Mobility is what drives the economy,” Dedenbach said, “but what part of Gainesville do you want to tell, they can’t see the sky.”
Denver, Colorado uses a new light rail system that costs about $600 million to run, and although very effective, Denver has a population of 2.9 million people, Dedenbach said. Most of those costs are being paid by taxpayers.
Such transportation systems appear to be a good idea on the outside because we do, in fact, need better mobility, however they “need to be scaled to our community,” Dedenbach said.
Nowadays, we have Uber, Lyft, Zipcar and more transportation opportunities than ever before, Dedenbach said. He argued that design was less of an issue.
Walking on campus is a lot more pleasant than walking near Archer Road, Hawkins said. Similarly, parking on campus is not fun at all.
We need dedicated new revenues, Hawkins said. Road resurfacing is very expensive and that is where a good portion of the money is going; however, if we want transportation to change, we actually need to do something about it.
Dedenbach closed the debate highlighting the importance of the community’s voice. “Regulation is good; no one likes being told what to do but there is a place where the government needs to step in,” said County Commissioner, Mike Byerly, opening the storm water and open space land development regulations debate.
Open space requirements have developers leave about 20 percent of the land for green space, Byerly said. As nutrients flow off developed areas into nearby rivers, Byerly argues for storm water regulations that require more nutrients to be captured on site. There is a need for balance in the community, said partner in Cheshire Companies, Dean Cheshire.
The income rate is 30 percent below the national average in Alachua County, Cheshire said.
“These costs won’t go away,” Byerly said. “We have to deal with the impacts of growth and development as a community.”
ANNA CAPPELLI is a second year pre-law and public relations major at the University of Florida with a dual-minor in dance and Italian. Anna is passionate about writing, Jesus and espresso and tries to satisfy her immense thirst for knowledge by studying various fields that have absolutely nothing to do with one another.