Frank Starkey

Citation
Frank Starkey

Material Information

Title:
Frank Starkey
Series Title:
West Central Florida land use oral history project
Creator:
Starkey, Frank, 1969-
Mansfield, Bill
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 sound file ( 98 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
City planning -- Florida -- Pasco County ( lcsh )
Neighborhoods -- Florida -- Pasco County ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

Notes

Summary:
Frank Starkey, a real estate developer, talks about his usage of "New Urbanism" in the development of the Longleaf community in Pasco County Florida. He discusses the ideas of "New Urbanism", the issues of urban sprawl, the cultural and environmental aspects of land, other experiments in "New Urbanism", the development of a charrette, issues with Longleaf, and his family's position on it. He also discusses the pressure from developers to sell their land holdings.
Venue:
Interview conducted August 24, 2006, in Odessa, Fla.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by William Mansfield.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
028592540 ( ALEPH )
182556178 ( OCLC )
W34-00006 ( USFLDC DOI )
w34.6 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information

Format:
Audio

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


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West Central Florida land use oral history project
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Frank Starkey, a real estate developer, talks about his usage of "New Urbanism" in the development of the Longleaf community in Pasco County Florida. He discusses the ideas of "New Urbanism", the issues of urban sprawl, the cultural and environmental aspects of land, other experiments in "New Urbanism", the development of a charrette, issues with Longleaf, and his family's position on it. He also discusses the pressure from developers to sell their land holdings.
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text William Mansfield: All right and its recording properly. This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Florida Special Collections Library, talking to Mr. Frank Starkey in the Starkey Ranch offices in Odessa, Florida, on August 24, 2006. And, we always get people to start out by having them state their name and telling us when they were born and where they were born. So let her go.
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00:00:28.8
Frank Starkey: All right. My name is Frank Starkey. I was born February 16, 1969 at St. Josephs Hospital, in Tampa.
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00:00:38.1
WM: Okay. And tell me what is your current occupation?
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00:00:43.5
FS: Im a real estate developer. My education was in architecture at Rice University, in Houston. I got an undergraduate degree in architecture and a professional degree, which is called a Bachelor of Architecture in 1991 and 1993, respectively both from Rice. Since 1995 Ive been engaged in real estate development with my brother Trey. We are working on a Development of Regional Impact on the Starkey Ranch, which is about 2,500 acres. But up until this point weve been working on a traditional neighborhood development called Longleaf, which is about 568 acres on the west end of the ranch.
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00:01:40.6
WM: Okay, well if we could, lets start with Longleaf, because when I talked to your father earlier he said that he sold that land to you and your brother to develop?1 Tell me about the origins of, the genesis of the idea to develop Longleaf as a different sort of subdivision.
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00:02:4.6
FS: Ill start with what Longleaf started off to be, initially. It was the first when I came back to work with Trey in 1995, shortly thereafter we started talking with John Hudson, who at the time owned Regency Communities, which was a major builder in Pasco County. Built in west Pasco, primarily. He later sold his business to Ryland Homes. But at the time, John was the owner of Regency Communities and looking for a piece of property to do a gated golf course, retirement, age-restricted community.
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00:02:52.1
So we started off by talking with John about doing a joint venture wherein John would provide thewould be the exclusive homebuilder and provide up front cash to get the project started. Our family would throw in the land and somehow Trey and I would be involved with the management of the project. As we got into the land planning of it and running economics it became apparent that in order to make the numbers workBill, tell me if Im going into too much detail or not enough?
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00:03:37.7
WM: No. Youre doing fine.
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00:03:38.8
FS: Okay. In order to make the financial side of it work, John really needed to have a certain number of houses to balance the costs of the golf course, and the gate and all of the other amenities. There just wasnt enough land. We werent able to squeeze all of that on to the 568 acres that comprises Longleaf. The main boundary was Starkey Boulevard, which is the eastern boundary of Longleaf and separates it from the rest of the ranch.
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00:04:16.2
WM: So there wasnt enough land for the golf course and enough houses to make it worthwhile?
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00:04:20.8
FS: Right.
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WM: Okay.
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00:04:21.8
FS: And Starkey Boulevard, and there is big power-line easement, or power-line right-of-way next to it, created a big barrier that was difficult to cross. To have the golf course cross that you needed some sort of grade separation for carts. Which means youre either building a road bridge or youre building a cart bridge or a tunnel, which is a major expense. You also probably need some way to get the cars across within the gated system.
13
00:04:55.6
So, if you were going to jump across Starkey Boulevard at all, you needed to jump across in a big way. So the land, to the east of the power line, at the time was owned by Dad and other members of our family, including our siblingsas it had come out of Granddads estate. Where the land that is Longleaf, west of the power line was Dads exclusively, the land on the east side we had to deal with other family members now. The concept there was we had to go so much bigger it kind of made the project need to double in size. So, two-thirds of it would have been the golf course, age-restricted stuff.
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00:05:55.4
Trey and I had always wanted to dowe had been talking for several years about wanting to do a New Urbanist project. So the idea was that the remainder of it would be a New Urbanist project. That deal fell apart, due to some internal dynamics about dealing with the family land. So we really were not able to deal with that. We were faced with the decision, in 1997, whether to continue with the gated golf course retirement program, with John Hudson. John said Okay I can do this if I can do it on my own. But there is really not enough room in the pie, so to speak, for the Starkeys to participate. So he would do it, as a straight land sale. Under some kind of terms, but basically a land sale. So our choice was to sell it to him, or go it on our own and do a different kind of project.
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00:07:4.5
And so Trey and I, and Mom and Dad, sat down in March of ninety-seven [1997] and said, Heres our choice. We can sell it to somebody whos going to do a good job, but do a conventional project. Or we could do it ourselves and do what we want to do in terms of developing in a New Urbanist fashion. It was our belief that New Urbanism was the best way to develop that met most of our development goals. So the question was, Do we do it now or do we wait? We decided to go ahead and do it now.
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00:07:56.3
WM: Let me ask a couple of questions, if you dont mind.
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FS: Sure.
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00:08:0.5
WM: You said that you and your brother had been thinking about New Urbanism and you figured that was the best way to meet your development goals? Elaborate on that, if you could please.
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00:08:12.5
FS: Every question you ask Im probably going to go back another decade or two in time. (laughs)
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00:08:18.8
WM: Well thats sort of post-modern deconstruction anyhow, so thats okay.
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00:08:23.9
FS: (laughs) So well keep going back to the roots of things. Dad, probably told you about growing up on the Ulmerton Ranch and seeing what happened to that. During the whole time that Trey and I and our sisters were growing up here, we knew that development coming in this direction was inevitable. I always tell people the story that when I was going to elementary school, every year on the school bus route between here and New Port Richey, thered be a new bus stop and a new subdivision. So growth, marching in our direction has been a reality our entire lives. Interestingly, newcomers are more shocked by the growth than we are. Newcomers usually expect us to be just blown away by it. But its like, Well, no its always been thus. (laughs)
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00:09:24.1
So we always knew it was coming in this direction, but Dad really instilled in us a belief that there was a better way to do it and that, Yes this land probably wasnt going to remain undeveloped for ever, at least not all of it. If there was going to be development on the land we would rather see it done in a good way. And what good was, was an idea that developed over time and it still developing today, really. One of the goals was the placelessness and sort of ordinary, not ordinary, thats not a good word.
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WM: Nondescript?
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FS: Yeah, nondescript is probably more like it. Automobile oriented, everything that people talk about, as bad with sprawl was something that Dad identified yearly on. Mom too. A lot of that goes back to their growing up years. Mom grew up in northeast St. Pete, in the forties [1940s] and fifties [1950s]. Which was sort of the height of small town American culture. Thats the great golden age that everybody hearkens back to. So she understood living in a vibrant community in an urban context. Id say in a medium density urban context.
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00:11:6.8
Dad grew up on a ranch out in the country but also understood small towns. They both, I think, had a sense that there was something really lacking socially and culturally in the suburban sprawl that was heading our way. They also had a strong sentiment for the natural environment, and I think instilled in us a love and appreciation for that environment. I think we all just kind of grew up just knowing that needed to be protected.
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Of course Granddad set the major example of protecting by his donations and gifts and sales to SWIFTMUD [Southwest Florida Water Management District], to keep a significantly sized piece of Florida wilderness in pristine shape, forever. So those two strains, one is the cultural side of the placelessness of suburbia, to use a cliched term, and the environmental preservation side, to use another cliched term. Those two strains were really part of our fiber as we were growing up. So, I think your question was
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00:12:40.3
WM: Youd talked about you decided going the New Urbanism route would meet your development goals.
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FS: So what were those goals?
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WM: Yes, what were the development goals?
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FS: So the development goals were to preserve the environment and create a place that fostered a real kind of community and fostered meaningful relationships among people. New Urbanism does that. In the way that traditional neighborhoods are designed its very much about fostering community building. Let me be more specific about that, fostering geographically located communities. You know there is all kinds of talk these days about community. There is the community of bottle-rocket launchers. (WM laughs) Theres community of bloggers, there is the gay community, things that are not geographically based. But what New Urbanism is about is geographical communities.
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00:13:53.1
Then by implication, when youre constructing more compact development patterns it creates the opportunity to leave nature untouched. And the good thing about that istheres two different major approaches to environmentally oriented development, as a catchall term. One is the pretense of Lets pretend to live like the Indians, and spread out or settlement patterns so we are living on large lots, with lots of nature left on those lots. This is kind of a 1960s, 1970s idea about its environmental if it has got rough stone siding on it, and you can hardly see it in the woods. The downside to that is that the house may have a light environmental footprint, but every time you want to do anything youve got to get in the car and drive twenty miles to do it.
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WM: Well, I was going to ask where did the Indians park their car?
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FS: (laughs) Yeah. The Indians didnt park and they didnt drive to work. So it is not really a realistic model. The other model is to cluster our development, our settlement patterns and leave places that are truly untouched as opposed to only lightly touched.
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So New Urbanism has the opportunity to leave places that are completely untouched, but are nearby to the settlement patterns so that people who are living in the settled area have, nearby, honest to goodness, untouched wilderness that they can go out and interact with. As opposed to sliced-up abstracted wilderness in the form of a large yard, that isnt really the same thing.
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WM: Just briefly, where were you introduced to notion of New Urbanism? Was that in architect school?
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FS: I guess it wasSeaside, which was really the initial New Urbanist project that really got that movement startedNew Urbanism, with a capital N and capital U. That started in 1980, but it started really hitting the press in the early nineties [1990s] which was when I was finishing up school. I had professors who were colleagues of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk who were the planners of Seaside.
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WM: Say those names again slowly please.
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FS: Oh. Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. DPZ is the name of their firm. They designed Seaside and among others started the New Urbanism movement. So I was aware of it in college but it was not something that was ever really taught or talked about in my training. I did learn urbanism. I learned a lot about urban design and the curriculum at Rice, at the time, was very focused on urban design issues anddesigning in an urban context and those kinds of things. The title of my professional degree is actually Bachelor of Architecture and Urban Design, or something like that. Theres, urban design is in there. So I was exposed to the issues, but its not like I took a class about New Urbanism.
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00:17:41.4
I did do one course that was about new towns. I was always interested in this stuff through college. It was always near and dear because of what was happening on the ranch. So I did do a class that had one other student, with the architectural history professor; looking at the New Town movement, which, in some ways, was the predecessor New Urbanism, but the New Town movement was in the fifties [1950s], sixties [1960s], and seventies [1970s].
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WM: So, really it was the impact of Seaside, up near Destin that introduced you to the idea of New Urbanism?
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: Okay. I just want to make sure that Im following you. You said the golf course development didnt pan out, so you and your family decided that you could develop this as a New Urban community?
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: Okay. So tell me about the design process. How you collected your thoughts and organized this community?
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FS: The design of a New Urbanwell lets see. In ninety-seven [1997] is when we started the design. I had gone to a couple of seminars about New Urbanism at Seaside and Id toured a few New Urban projects. One of which is called Windsor, over near Vero Beach, that was another DPZ project. I called DPZs office and said, Id like to go tour Windsor. How do I get there? I was really just calling for directions, cause Id read about it in a magazine. They said, You need to call Geoff Ferrell. Hes the town architect over there and hell get you in.
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So I called Geoff Ferrell and he gave me the grand tour. Jeff, at the time was working as the town architect at Windsor. He had worked at DPZ before that and had architectural training. So we had a nice tour and he showed me a good cooks tour of the place. That was probably in ninety-five [1995] when I toured that, yeah in fact Im sure it was. That was right when I was first back in Florida. And about ninety-six [1996], about a year later, I was on his mailing list and he sent out a card that he had opened his own firm to do town planning. About a year later we were starting to do our town plan here, so I called Geoff and asked if he would come to do a charrette to lay out Longleaf?
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WM: Do a what?
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FS: A charrette, Ill explain that.
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WM: Okay.
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FS: The people who started New Urbanism were architects, as opposed to planners. Its an important difference between New Urbanism and other planning movements. Its much more formally based than policy-based. Most planning movements and the planning profession is all about policy. New Urbanism is much more about form. Policy is secondary. Form is firstbuilding form, street form, blocks, neighborhoods, and even regional form.
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In the field of architecture there is a term called charrettes, C-h-a-r-r-e-t-t-e, which is French for carts. It dates back to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which was the original architecture school basically. There is all sorts of lore about what the term means, but over the years it evolved to in architecture school, or even in architecture firms, when youre working on a project getting ready for a deadline and staying up all night and working very intensely on it, its called a charrette.
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The New Urbanists and DPZ kind of started designing projects in a charrette format. So one of the hallmarks of New Urbanism is doing charrettes. In designing a project by charrette means getting all of the clients, the architects and designers, any kind of specialists, whether they are transportation designers or engineers, civil engineers, retail specialists, even marketing peoplegetting all of the people who are going to be involved in developing a project into the same room at the same time. And over the period of a week or so, sometimes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter, they will design the bones of the whole project.
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WM: So its more of a totalplanning?
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FS: Yeah. Its a total planning workshop that kind of gets most of everythingtakenit kind of front-loads most of the design work. Sometimes it will go into designing actual buildings but at least setting up the architectural tone and the style for the buildings and laying out the streets and deciding which streets will have what kind of characterand all of that.
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So Geoff organized a charrette with Armando Montero who is an architect that he had worked with, who is from Miami, and Suzanne Askew Lauter, who is a landscape architect and some other people, Tom Spain, who is a professor at the University of Miami. We did this charrette to design Longleaf in I think the summer of ninety-seven [1997], maybe June or July. Thats where the planning came from. That identified the locations of the neighborhoods and the architectural character that we would go for, the arrangement of the green spacethe green belt between the neighborhoods, and the architectural code that would govern the design of the houses. That all came out of that charrette. It was all refined over time and continues to be refined, but that was where it started.
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WM: So in ninety-seven [1997] you all got together and decidedand laid out the plans for the housing types? Okay, so how did youI guess the question I want to ask is your interaction with the localI cant think of the term.
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FS: Regulators?
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WM: Right, the county government, and the state government I suppose.
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FS: We didnt really have anything to do with state, because we were not a DRI sized project. We had environmental permits from SWIFTMUD to get. And I guess there are DEP permits [Department of Environmental Protection] for the sewer system, and wastewater and storm water and whatever those things are. But we didnt really have to go to Tallahassee, so to speak. There were state level agencies involved but it wasnt like going to DCA [Department of Community Affairs]. The county government, at that time, in stark contrast as to how they are today, had a pretty hands-off attitude about regulating the form of development. Theres a zoning classification called MPUD, which stands for Master Planned Unit Development.
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WM: Master Plan what?
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FS: Unit Development. That when you read the intent paragraph, at the beginning of that zoning category, it says, paraphrased, This zoning category is to give developers the flexibility to do something different than from what were used to seeing. The main thing about MPUDs is that it allowed a developer to propose alternates of design standards, that were different from the regular land development regulations that govern set-backs and street widths and building types and all of the formal things of development.
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So we used the MPUD process to get our permits, because one of the big things about New Urbanism, or urbanism, new world, is that it doesnt fit the land development regulations and zoning codes that were put in place in the twentieth century in jurisdictions all across the country. In order to get around that you have to either seek a whole bunch of variances, in the case of the MPUD, we were able to do it through alternative design standards. The County was prettythey believed us when we said this was a better form of development and it makes charming little streets and the mixing of uses is good and having apartments above the shops is a development pattern we should go back to. Having slightly smaller lots, with community parks in exchange for that lot savings was a good thing.
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WM: More public space in exchange for less private space?
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FS: Yeah, exactly. Having alleys behind the houses is a good thing because it restores architecture to houses on the street. Raising the floor elevations and putting front porches on houses is a good thing. All of these things working together foster a community and thats a good thing for society. Having narrower streets is an important part of that recipe. Your street standards in the land development codes are too wide, so we need to be able to have narrower streets, all of these kinds of things. There were a few things that they kind of said, well what about that and what about thisour colleagues, doing New Urbanism across the country and across the state in different jurisdictions mostly had horror stories about getting permits to do this stuff that was technically illegal. Even though it had been done for hundreds of years before zoning came into place. Wed heard all of these horror stories about how hard it was to get the fire marshal to sign off on narrow streets and all these things.
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We didnt have that much of a problem in Pasco County. They were prettythey were willing to work with us. They were open to the ideas and also, frankly, they were not in a posture to stand in the way of a developer who is willing to put their own money at risk.
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WM: You said there were a few points of contention with the County?
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FS: Minor things. What was usually the most onerous problem that other developers ran into was the fire marshal. Wanted to have streets [where] he could drive biggest fire truck known to man, without having to slow down or put it in reverse at any point, ever. And who can argue with the fire chief because he is about saving lives? And who can argue against saving lives?
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So we expected this big push back from the fire chief. He had one point that he made, there were some intersections of alleys with one-way streets that needed to be wider. Which was a good point, and yes, you still need to be able to get fire trucks through. The question is, just how fast? So that was not really a point of contention. That was a point of feedback. It wasnt anything we really had an argument about.
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WM: You said that the County, the board that regulatesI guess it would be the County Commissioners?
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FS: Yeah, and the DRC, the Development Review Commission.
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WM: Okay. You said they didnt offer any opposition. Was that because they didnt understand it or because you all were putting up your own money for this? How would you explain that?
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FS: I think there was starting to be enough press about New Urbanism that they knew enough that they liked it. I think they trusted us because we were local, born and raised herewe werent carpetbaggers, so to speak. So I think there was a level of personal trust there. Then I think, you know, there was probably a component of it that it was just. Its your money. As long as were looking after the health safety and welfare of the citizens in general. If people want to buy thats great, but if not thats your problem more than it is ours. Youre probably not going to continue if it doesnt work. And if it doesnt workwho are we to stand in your way? Im just kind of guessing but just knowing what we knew aboutcause we knew all of those people personally and they knew us. I think there is a certain level of trust there that is not altogether common in those regulator/regulated relationships.
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WM: Okay. One of the things I read in that article is that there somewellokay so the regulatory part of county government was fine with this. What about the building communitywhat kind of reaction did you get?
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FS: That was a harder sell, frankly.
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WM: Tell me about that.
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FS: The homebuilders arebecause of the dynamics of that business, not really of that market, but of that business, homebuilders tend to be pretty conservative, when it comes to developing new products. By extension of that concept, the development community tends to be pretty conservative when it comes to developing new products. A lot of that is because the model of market study is to look at what has sold to predict what will sell, whereas most industries dont really work that way. If all of our industries worked that way wed never have any innovation. You wouldnt be recording this on an mp3 player. Itd still be on stone tablets, I dont know. (both laugh)
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But the home building and development community are pretty conservative about developing new stuff. So the industry has distilled, especially in this particular market, the home building typologies down to basically onethe three/two split-plan. Which is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, where the master suite is on one side, the living areas are in the center of the house and the other two bedrooms are on the other side. And the garage is on one side or the other. Its a highly distilled building type that has been built a zillion times. Most homebuilders are used to manipulating that type and their designs in very minor ways. But theyve all got a portfolio of ten to a hundred versions of this type that they are used to building.
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So they didnt have the product to sell a lot that had an alley in the back. The second you presented them with an alley-loaded lot, they were starting over with a blank piece of paper. Thats not a very comfortable place for them to be. Their expertise is, usually, either in marketing or customer service, or its in construction, but its not in design. So design, to builders is a big investment of time and its a big risk, in terms of market acceptance. Thats just a fundamental issue on each residential lot.
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On top of that theres all these other crazy things, at the time crazy things about our communityvillage greens, narrow streets, picket fences. We wanted the floor elevations to all be raised two to three feet. We wanted front porches on everything. They thought front porches were cute but they thought they were just an added cost. They didnt think that the customers would really credit any value to that. So they couldnt really add that to their sales price. To them it was a cost item but not an increased sales price item. They saw the same thing with raised floor elevation. It was too outside of their normal box, of what they were used to selling.
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WM: I have to ask this question. Wasnt that really reverting back to an older house plan?
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FS: Yeah, but these guys didnt build those old house plans. So its not like they had them still sitting in their cabinets from 1920. Cause it really had been since before the Depression that any of this stuff was really built and you cant just go into Seminole Heights and take those floor plans because family dynamics have changed. People want bigger rooms, more storage; so it really was a trick to develop new floor plans for it. That was kind of the fundamental push back. Once you got past that, the builders that were willing to look at it were very, you know, it was a high-risk thing for them.
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There were two sets of builders we were able to talk to. The first set were national builders, like David Weekley and Morrison, both of whom had built in Celebration which at that time was the first big-scale production housing TND or Traditional Neighborhood Development. So they were the only builders that did have product on their shelves that they could build in Longleaf, with alley-loaded lots and stuff.
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And their decision wasthey still were companies who, for the most part, built that three/two-split plan. But their decision was there were two New Urbanist projects on the boards in the Tampa Bay area. One of them was in Westchase, which at the time was the fastest selling master-planned community in the Bay area for several years running. Had very strong value appreciation and was a very well managed project by an established development company. The other project that they had to choose from was Longleaf, which was a new project, much further out from downtown. So much more out-there location and market, being run by two young guys who hadnt done a big project before and to them it was an easy decision to see that it doesntif can do one or the other youre going to go to Westchase. So those guys said, We like you, thank you. We like you, but were going to go over here with our dice roll. They werent going to roll the dice on two of these projects at the same time in the Bay area.
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The other group of builders that we were able to talk to were local production builders. They werent the pick-up truck builders that built twelve houses a year. These were guys who built 50 to 300 houses a year on a production scale. But they werent big regional builders they were local production builders.
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WM: Now would a production builder be kind of like an assembly line? Would it involve pre-fabricated parts?
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FS: Not pre-fabricated, but much more, These are our floor plans, pick one of those and well build it.
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WM: But sort of an assembly line thought?
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FS: Kind of. Yeahloosely thats a closer analogy. As opposed to a custom builder who starts with a customer and a blank piece of paper. A production builder, by definition is not using
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WM: No Im just keeping track of the time, so just
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FS: Okay and feel free to cut me off if Im going on too long.
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WM: Okay, right. No but you were talking about the production building.
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FS: Production builders are I guess buy definition, they build volume, repetitively, where the custom builder builds one house once.
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WM: Okay.
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FS: But these are smaller builders and they do an amount of customization. Theres also the term, semi-custom, which is halfway between a production builder and a custom builder. They might start with a customer with a stock floor plan and then make changes to that stock floor plan. But they are not starting with a blank piece of paper and drawing it from the ground up.
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WM: Okay. So you attracted a small production builder?
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FS: Yeah, so there were three local production builders who were willing to take the risk to develop new products and come into this crazy project, thats who we ended up with in the first round.
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WM: Okay. One of the things I read in the paper said something about a threatened lawsuit about builders perhaps contesting some of the design plans? You look puzzled. That doesnt
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FS: That doesnt ring a bell.
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WM: Okay. Perhaps I miss quoted it or the paper got it wrong. The notes I took said, In May Pasco County was threatened with a lawsuit from builders.
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FS: Ohyeah. Lets flash forward ten years. The county is going through a bunch of comprehensive land use changescomp-plan changes. One of those changes has to do with rural protection areas where they want to require traditional neighborhood development. Kind of like what St. Lucie County was doing, but not quite as sophisticated. They were wanting to require TND standards up there.
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Some of the people who lead the Pasco Builders Association [PBA] threatened to sue the county over those requirements. Its sort ofthe way it came across in the article wasit was part of the picture but didnt really explain the whole thing. We werent involved in it. In fact we resigned from the PBA when they made that threat. We didnt want to be a part of that. We didnt think that was the way to go about winning friends and influencing people.
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WM: Okay. So that is completely separate and apart from Longleaf?
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FS: Right.
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WM: Anyhow, back to our story, you got the local builders to come on board with the community, to build the houses?
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: Okay. What came next?
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FS: Well how long have you got? (laughs)
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WM: I brought another disc with me. So if we fill this one up, we can start filling up the other one.
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FS: What direction do you want to go. I can give you the whole history of Longleaf, but that would probably take three days. So
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WM: I havent got that kind of time.
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FS: (laughs) Okay.
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WM: I guess
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FS: We did have pushback fromwe had a lot of things we had to overcome with the builders about the design of the houses and about getting them to understand what the whole project was about. That was a challenge. For the most part, I think we got them there on the exterior design of the houses, in terms of their functional aspects. They werent very great architects and they werent very great designers. None of them used real architects. They used design services or in-house design. I shouldnt say that. I dont mean to slight their design services. They didnt use architects that were used to working in this typology, with the garage in back.
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What I discovered was that they had all designed houses dozens of times. They had designed, built them and sold them. So I didnt feel like I could teach them anything about how to do that better, on the interior plan. I knew that I had to change what they were designing on the exterior of the houses. I had to teach them about why a porch has to be eight feet deep and that a five foot deep porch isnt worth fooling with, cause you cant sit on it. But I thought Id leave the interior floor plans up to them.
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What I didnt realize was that while they were pretty facile in manipulating the floor plans of a three/two split-plan, where the locations of the rooms are already set and all youre doing is adding an angle here and niche there and an arched doorway there. They werent able to start with a new typology and figure out how to arrange the rooms. Thats over simplifying it, but they were really at a loss for how to make good product floor plan decisions in a new building typology that was just different from the three/two split-plan.
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It was also different from our narrowest lots to our widest lots. You have very different constraints on those different lots. So, How do you get from the garage to the kitchen? is a whole different when the garage is in the back, instead of the front. And I insisted on having living rooms, or dining roomsyou know public, the living spaces of the house, needed to be on the front of the house. But how do you get that on the front of the house whenFloridians are used to having their living room overlooking their pool in the back. There is away to solve that but they didnt know that. That was one of my first lessons, Oh, they cant do this. (laughs)
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Then the next challenge was getting the buyers to understand it. There was a lot of education required to teach buyers who are used to driving into a subdivision with a spine-road making a right turn to go into the pod where the houses were all fifty feet wide and cost 150,000 dollars. Or, turning left to go to a pod where the houses were all forty feet wide and cost 120,000 dollars. You know the next pod down was the pool. You knowwere pretty straightforward and they had gone into twenty-five of these subdivisions the weekend before and then they go into Longleaf and are presented with something completely different.
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Theres a village green with cars parked on the street. The garages are nowhere to be seen. Therere front porches, which are really cute, but the prices are a lot higher and the lots look a lot smaller. Why am I paying 175,000 dollars for 1500 square feet? I dont know that those are real numbersWhen I can pay 150,000 dollars for 2,000 square feet in that subdivision down the road? Some buyers drove in and immediately got it. Some buyers drove in and immediately drove out. Some buyers drove in three, four, eight, nine, ten times before they really understood it and then they loved it.
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People were not generally neutral about Longleaf. They either really loved it or they really disliked it. Or they really loved itbut for somebody else. They said, Thats really cute but I could never live that way. But it was a marketing challenge to explain all of these new features outside the house. Before you even got to the fact that they walk in the front door they are not going to be looking straight through the living room to the pool, they are going to be looking at a different floor plan, that is not just like the twenty they went in the other subdivisions.
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We have a lot to explain to buyers, which made the selling process a lot longer. But once buyers moved inthe experience wasI think the buyers kind of self-selected, especially in the early years. So we had people move in who were really excited about building community and really excited about all of the new friends they were going to make. Subsequently our first group of buyers were instantly fast-friends and this really strong, close-knit community was started right off the bat.
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That changed as the place grew bigger. More people moved in and it became less strange. More people moved in because they thought it was a good investment, or moved in because they thought it would be good to be near the school, more moved in for reasons less compelling reasons. Not that they didnt still feel strongly about the concept, but they werent as zealously committed to the kind of pioneering sprit of Longleaf that some of the earlier ones were. So that sense of community slowly diluted over time. But it is still, I would submit, much stronger than any other subdivision.
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WM: That was my next question. You said that people seemed to either love it or hate it? You mentioned the strong sense of community as being one of the attractive aspects. What were some of the other things that people liked about the Longleaf Community?
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FS: They liked the houses. They liked the privacy they can have in their back yard. Ironically, the conceit of suburbanismsuburban sprawly-houses with a three/two split-planis that you have all of this privacy. But in fact you very often dont. Unless your house backs up to a swamp you have neighbors in your backyard. Youre exposed to your neighbors a lot more. The way the houses in Longleaf were laid outwith out going into the details of it, creates an entirely private back yard and a front side that is much more civicly interactive than a big garage with a driveway in the front would be. People liked that. They liked that you could walk places and the walk was interesting. They liked having the school and pre-school in there. They liked the idea of the downtown, with the shops that they could walk to.
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In fact its ironic, in conventional subdivisions its fairly common for the developer to leave a parcel up at the front, up on the main road, for commercial development. When they go to develop that, the residents in the subdivision scream in protest. They hate it and they are all mad because there is going to be development. And they perceive is as its going to damage their property values and bring crime and all this bad stuff.
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In Longleaf, because everybody understands how the commercial is integrated in the neighborhood and they bought there hoping that commercial would be there as an amenity. They are actually mad at us that the commercial hasnt been built faster. When we finally did build the commercial I think some people have actually boycotted it. Theyre mad at us because there is not more of it. Which is moronic to me.
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WM: Put a Wal-Mart in there and see what happens!
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FS: (laughs) Yeah! I guess they are driving down to Wal-Mart instead.
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WM: But is the commercial aspect of Longleaf there yet or in the process of moving in?
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FS: Weve got our first retail buildingretail and apartment, mixed use building is opened, has been open for about a year now. Weve got six businesses in it. There was a general store that went out of business earlier this year. But there is a womens boutique, a hair salon, a jewelry store, a dry cleaner, a cigar bar, one regular office user, in that building. Then there is a catering kitchencatering and take-out, hot meals, they are working on their finish-out right now. And then theres another building, about the same size, thats planned for across the street. There is some commercial done, more to come.
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WM: Okay, so that the community ends-up being within walking distance of these services is some of the appeal?
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: All right, and you said that people hated it. One of the reasons they did was that it was just different and didnt meet their preconception of what a community should be. Can you think of other reason why they didnt like Longleaf?
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FS: The one we would always hear the most is that they perceived that the houses were too close together and the lots were too small. Fact of the matter is that the houses are not really closer together nor are the lots appreciably smaller than most of the other contemporary subdivisions that are being built. But I think, peoplethe houses are closer to the street. In the early stages of construction of a neighborhood, when theres a lot of empty lots, when there is a lot of open space, the houses that are built appear closer together because there is all of this open space next to them. Once the neighborhood is built out and there is not all of that open space next to it; it doesnt look rightI mean it doesnt wrong, it looks right. But in the early stages, which is when getting reactions, it looks that way.
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Some people just dont want to be involved with their neighbors. They dont want to be in a place where there is an expectation of community involvement. Some people are just anti-social to whatever extent. They dont like that idea. They are worried about the Gladys Kravitz of the neighborhood being in their business all the time.2
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WM: (laugh) Right. So how close is Longleaf to completion? Or being built-out, or whatever the term is?
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FS: There are a little over 300 homes built and occupied. Therere about 300 more lots that are developed right now, with houses that are under construction and just starting to be opened, sold and occupied. Thats a total of 600. Then theres about 600 more dwelling units left to go after that. Multi-family single family and some large lots too. So were a quarter done with houses, half done with lots and about a quarter done with the commercial.
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WM: One of the things I read about New Urbanism and the mixture of different kinds of people. I guess economic stratification is what youre looking forhow has that developed at Longleaf?
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FS: The main way to develop that is through housing types and sizes and lot sizes. Weve got now four, pretty simple attached products, townhomesthe traditional term is town homes. Those range in size from about 1, 300 square feet, up to 18,000 square feet. Then weve got small, medium and large and extra large single-family homes, on small, medium, large and extra large lots. Then weve got apartments above the retail down town. Eventually those may become condominiums, but for now they are apartments.
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Then another thing we have isweve included zoning to allow people to have accessory dwelling units, garage apartments, granny flatswhatever term you want to call iton their lot. That creates sort of noticeable, but harder to track, but still noticeable stratum of housing price. Those are limited in size to no more than 750 square feet. Theyre not going to be bigger than a one-bedroom apartment. More often than not they are really no more than a studio. Weve got several families that have in-laws who live in those and some others that have them rented out. Some just have them as bonus rooms or game rooms for the kids, or whatever. Craft rooms, studios.
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WM: What kind of diversity is there in Longleaf, I mean ethnically and economically?
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FS: I think there is a fair degree of economic diversity. There are some people who moved-in in the early years, before the real estate market went crazy in the last couple of years. Probably kind of squeaked in and now they couldnt afford to buy a new house in there now. And there are some people who sailed in, because they loved it and bought the biggest house they could find and it still wasnt as much as they could have afforded if they had wanted more. Some people have pretty lavish houses and some people have pretty modest houses.
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Far less ethnic diversity than I would like, frankly. And less than you would expect. Although Pasco has historically been extremely white, compared towith the Tampa Bay Leadership Class visiting, which I was a member of. Several years ago we visited one of the high schools in Pasco County all of the people that were from Pinellas and Hillsborough County were freaked out that there were no black students walking around. They were Where are the black kids? There are none here. That is so weird. They are used to much higher African American populations.
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Thats the way Pasco is. Pasco has always been extremely, kind of spookily white. Thats starting to change. I still dont think we have any African Americans living in Longleaf. This just shocked me, butwe have a couple of Asians. I dont even know about Latinos. There are a couple of Latinos, but I think they are second or third-generation American citizens, so theyre notis surprisingly not diverse, but not for lack of trying. (laughs)
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WM: The people, who live in Longleaf, do they commute out to St. Pete, and New Port Richey and Tampa to work?
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: So it is still sort of a commuter
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FS: Yeah, it pretty much is. There are a number of people who work out of their homes, who have home-based businesses. A lot of people work nearbyyou know they dont have real long commutes. There is one office building in Longleaf thats 23,000 square feet, that is an engineering firm. There is one man who lives in Longleaf who used to work therehe was a landscape architect that worked for that engineering firm, quit to open his own practice and then eventually quit that, and now works for another engineering firm down in Tampa. Then they have another guy who works for FDC [Florida Design Consultants] who lives in Longleaf. Those are the ones that I know of. There might be a couple of more. So there are people who understand its an opportunity to live and work close to home.
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WM: So what do you see for the future of Longleaf? I mean best-case scenario and worst-case scenario?
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FS: In terms of what?
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WM: Of its continued growth, or maybe a better question would be the spread of the idea of New Urbanism.
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FS: I think the idea of New Urbanism is spreading pretty quickly. Its grown significantly since we started Longleaf. I mean Longleaf is still one of the early projects, nation-wide. It wasnt one of the first-generation but it was the first-generation of next-generation projects, and larger projects. But since thenI think the list of projects was 40, nation-wide when we started, then it was 200. Now its 1,300 or something like that. I mean its growing exponentially.
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I think that as development regulation pressures increase, in different jurisdictions around the country and as land costs and development costs increase and as energy costs increase, the natural tendency for all settlements is to densify over time. Whether its a village or a small town or a big city, or a metropolis. Overtime they always densify. Cities dont become less denseI mean they became less dense in the twentieth century, but that was unnatural because of the cars and some other economic and political that were pushing that. But the way that humans settle, left to their own devices, we have a tendency to densify.
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In the current land-use regulation environment that tendency to densify is really being accelerated. As development costs, material cost and energy costs, which are all interrelated go up thenas things densify you cant take the suburban model and densify it and have it still be pleasant or workable. I dont think it works, even if it is low density, but if you densify it, it just takes a bad thing and makes it worse.
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So you cant just take a 600 acre subdivision, at three units to the acre and make it ten units to the acre and have it still work. You have to change the form. I think New Urbansim is the answer to changing that form. There also needs to be a change in the transportation patterns, which is directly tied to our energy consumption and New Urbanism is the best answer to that. I think over time, that it has to force itself into being what it is.
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Right now it is sort of a political hot potato. It gets the label of New Urbamism, which is a good thing to some people and its a stigma to others. People talk about, welldevelopment is a very emotional topic in general. But on a rational basis urban forms are time tested over millennia, not just decades or centuries. Its the way that humans settled and its the way that we live. Our primary transportation mode is at the bottom of our legs and not parked in the garage. (WM laughs) Weve tried this experiment with cars. Were learning and will learn that regardless of what energy costs; its just not a workable model to pattern our settlement after. I think that New Urbanism will grow.
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In terms of what will happen with Longleaf, I think the good thing about Urbanism is that it gets better as it gets built-out. The residents are mad because it hasnt built out faster. They understand that it gets better the more there is. The more houses that are there the more neighbors there are to support the community. The more buyers there are to support the businesses. It all really gets better with age. So as Longleaf builds-out more business will come in and be able to thrive. The place will be built-out so that places that are empty spaces now, that make other things look funny, that make the houses look too close together, as those get filled in with buildings that are useful and create nice urban places it gets better. I think the long range, you know, the build-out scenario is much better than it is today.
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WM: So it sounds like youre optimistic about the prospects of Longleaf and the whole concept of New Urbanism.
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FS: Yeah.
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WM: Okay. Well let me ask a question that is completely different. Ive talked to your father about his perspective on the land and what it means. He told me about your grandfathers perspective on the land and what it means. How would you say that your vision of what land means differs from your fathers? Do you see it differently than he does?
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FS: Yes I do. I thinkI guess I bring the social and cultural side back to it. To me the value of the landit has intrinsic value as a natural system and a natural environment and all of that. But to me there is a great potential value in the interaction between the humans and that. The benefitsLaura frames it in mutual benefits between humans and the environment. We benefit from each other.3
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Besides land management Im not so strong onI dont know if the environment has to benefit from us, beside just to mitigate our own screwing it up. But I do think we have a great benefit to gain from an experience and interaction on a daily and ordinary level. National Parks, for example, are a phenomenal resource and a wonderful thing. Everybody should see the Grand Canyon at some point in their lives, Yosemite and the Great Smokey Mountains and all of those places. But those are sort of once in a lifetime experiences.
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WM: The exception?
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FS: Yeah. You also need to have a patch of woods where you run into frogs and the trees and know when a tree falls. Its just kind of part of your daily life and your daily fiber. Thats what we had as kids, growing up on this piece of property. From my own personalI was the youngest of the four kids and Im the farthest apart from them in age. Theyre all clustered pretty close together in age and I was a lot younger. I didnt have as many playmates in the area when I was growing up. So I had this fantastic 16,000 acres back yard, but I didnt have buddies to play with and share it with.
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And I was always jealous when Id go to my friends who lived in subdivisions in New Port Richey. I was jealous of them because they had neighbors who lived within a couple of blocks that they could ride their bikes to. And they could go toone of them might have a pool or there might be a community pool. There was this whole social network that I lacked, having out here. So Longleaf and New Urbanism, for me, has been an opportunity for me to present the best of those two worlds to future generations. To take the experience that I had of playing in the mud, on a daily basis, not just on vacation, and mix that with the benefit of having neighbors and friends, places to go and people to share it with, a community to be a part of.
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So thats my vision. I think Dads vision has been more about the intrinsic value of that nature. He has been veryhis land management style and his cattle ranching stylehis agricultural practices, I perceive as being very interactive with the environment. Thats kind of a higher level from what Im talking about, you know, the toes in the mud, you know, hes dealing with the best land management is also the best agricultural management. Throughout his career hes worked towards agricultural sustainability and environmental sustainability at the same time. I guess Im looking toward sustainable development patterns and environmental sustainability at the same time. Sort of a different angle on the same pursuit.
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WM: When you all proposed doing LongleafI talked to your father and he said he hated the idea of development. I think it was the land down around Largo that got developed and he said that just broke his heart. So when you came to him to talk about developing the land, what kind of reaction did you get?
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FS: Thats an interesting question. He was for doing what we did with Longleaf. He was glad to see that it was that and not the other. If you go down to the Ulmerton Ranch, where he grew up, its all three/two split-plans. It really is one of the most placeless places Ive ever seen. Ive actually gone down there to try and find the housethe house he grew-up is still there on the corner, but the rest of itits hard to even find your way around in that area. Its really a placeless place. So I understand what hes talking about.
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He was glad to see us do what we were doing and he understood the ideas behind what we were doing. Still, I think it breaks his heart to see the houses in the pastures that he cleared by hand. So I think he has much more mixed feelings about it. I dont want to speak for him. But I think, at the end of the day, its hard for him to see it happen. But hes pretty pragmatic too and understandsI think if he had a choice he would have left it all alone.
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WM: thing back on. So, anyhow, you said your father was more ambivalent about developing Longleaf than you were?
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FS: Yeah, not to be semantic but, not so much ambivalent as just mixed emotions.
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WM: When I talked with him he mentioned the next phase, of developing Starkey Ranch. That was large enough to require the DRI planning on that. Where would you want to start in telling me about that?
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FS: Well its really a kind of extension of the same ideas of Longleaf. And when we started Longleaf one of the major goals there was to figure out how to do New Urbanism. To learn about it and do a test run, on a number of levels, for the rest of the ranch. It was really kind of a dress rehearsal for the main corpus of the ranch development. Beneficially, it was excellent that we did that. Im really glad that we didnt decide to just sell it to be another conventional project and then defer that learning curve. It was a steep learning curve that we had to be on sooner or later. Im glad we got it out of the way when we were still younger than we are now. (laughs) But that being said, whats different about the Starkey Ranch is that the land is owned by Dad and three of us four kids and two cousins.
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WM: So thats the Starkey Land Company?
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FS: Correct. Starkey Land Company was formed by taking what were a number of disparate ownerships of different pieces of land and throwing them all into one land holding company, with prorated shares among everybody. One sister didnt want to be a part of it, so we bought her out as part of that process. Instead of a bunch of different pieces fruit, we have one smoothie.
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WM: Okay.
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FS: At the same time, as a family, as the Starkey Land Company, board of directors, which is those people I mentioned before, we went through an intentional strategic planning process to develop our own mission statement and goals and values and operating systems, reporting structures and accountability and all of that stuff. Whereas Longleaf was Trey and me doing the management of the project, with financial support form Mom and Dad, this is now Trey and me managing a project withwell financial support from the whole family but we also have more people to answer to. But we also have a larger overall vision to answer to as well, a more clarified overall vision. That vision is really threefold. I dont know if Dad told you our mission statement the other day?
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WM: Actually I dont know that he did mention that.
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FS: Alright, our consultants told us that we all needed a to recite this at the drop of a hat, but Im the only one that does it so far. To maintain a family legacy of foresight and partnership with the land, balancing environmental, social and financial stewardship. Its one of those great mission statements where almost every word in that sentence is very loaded and meaningful.
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It kind of comes down to the three-legged stool of financial, social and environmental stewardship. It is interesting, in the past six months Ive been to a number of seminars or presentations on development regulations and Ive read articles in Urban Land Institute magazines, talking about that three-legged stool. Environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, social sustainabilitypeople have different terms for those three things but basically thats kind of the three things that everybody is taking about now. So on the environmental side were planning a significant new chunk of conservation land. On the social side were planning a New Urbanist built form, which inherently fosters authentic community. On the financial side, were balancing all of that in a way that is economically beneficial to us, but also sustainable.
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So thats kind of where we started on the project. We started the planning process with that in mind. What we came up with this master plan up here, on the wall. But theres basically five major neighborhood areas that are more complete neighborhoods. Geographically they are bigger than the neighborhoods that are in Longleaf. Thats just because of the way the geography of the ranch laid out. We were able to get a full-sized pedestrian shed, which is a half-mile diameter circle for each neighborhood. When you look at the land with those goals in mind the plan kind of makes itself. Then we put together a consulting team to help us pull all of that together in the best way possible.
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WM: That, I want to say Grandy?
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FS: Glatting-Jackson?
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WM: Glatting-Jackson, okay.
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FS: Glatting-Jackson is the planning team, planning firm and the environmental consultant. Some of the transportation planning is in there. Then Florida Design Consultants, which is the firm that has their office on Longleaf, did the civil engineering and transportation planning. And Ben Harrill is our legal counsel. Then there is geo-technical and all kinds ofthere are a few other consultants that are part of that team as well.
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WM: Okay. Your father mentioned the DRI, the larger plan about how this will impact the community. Id be curious to know about your interaction with the county government to get this off the ground. It seems like theyd have the potential to help you or hinder you in this.
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FS: You should probably ask me this question again in a year. Were about a third of the way through the DRI process. So far its been theyou start off by negotiating in written documents back and forth with all of the various agencies that have any kind of jurisdiction anywhere near here.
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WM: Could you go over those various agencies?
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FS: Department of Transportation, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corps of Engineers, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Regional Planning Council, School Board.
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WM: Is SWIFTMUD in there somewhere?
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FS: SWIFTMUD, yep. And any others you can think of are probably in there. (laughs)
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WM: Okay.
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FS: And the Regional Planning Council coordinates, kind of administrates the formal correspondence, but basically everybody makes comments on the application. The application has to deal with all sorts of differentlike twenty-eight different questionsthat have to be answered. Everything from whether your impact is on roads, the natural environment, storm-water, affordable housing, schools, fire, water, sewer, parksevery level of infrastructure and environment, what are your impacts going to be? You have to quantify that, and measure it, and study it and measure it. Then they provide their input.
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WM: Thats a big question to answer.
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FS: Yeah (chuckles) its twenty-eight very big questions to answer. These three-inch green binders are applications and responses. Each level of response gets to be a thicker and thicker document. So we go through that with all of the regulatory agencies.
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And then once thats done we really get down to the brass tacks of negotiations with Pasco County. We havent started that yet, so we really dont know how that its going to go. Pasco, in the last several years, has become notorious, statewide for being extremely difficult to deal with. For making unreasonable demands and expectations, this isnt going into the newspaper anytime soon is it? (laughs)
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WM: No. Like I said, when you read over the transcript, if you want this stricken from the record we can do this.
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FS: If it is not going to be listened to for five years, I dont care. But if it is going to be in the newspaper next week I do care.
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WM: No its not going to be in the newspaper.
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FS: (laughs) Im mostly being facetious, but
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WM: Well who would you negotiate with, planning commission, the county commissioners?
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FS: The County Administrator is really who it comes down to.
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WM: Okay.
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FS: Most of this has to do with the wayJohn Gallagher is the Pasco County Administrator and he is the longest tenured county administrator in the state. Does a good job, but he micro-manages to a certain degree. He also has been getting pretty horsy, requiring things of DRIs and developers thathe really doesnt have a leg to stand on to require them in some cases. Sometimes hes being unreasonable and sometimes hes just fighting back the developers who are being unreasonable. What we keep hearing from people is that it is a pretty arduous process. He ends up extracting a lot more than he ought to be able to, but nobody stands up and says, No, because its just not worth it.
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WM: Is that kind of attitudedoes that hinder development?
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FS: Thats a good question. Development hasnt been very slow in Pasco County, in spite of that attitude. Thats a whole topic in itself. Probably it doesnt hinder it enough to stop it. His attitude is probably, The county needs to get what it can out of this development, before it just rolls over us. Thinking as a disinterested citizen, I think he probably does the right thing, although it may run down the line of being legally defensible in terms of whats regulatoryyou know what the rules say he cant extract. But I think the rules could probably stand to be stronger. Hes just kind of ringing that alarm.
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So he and the countybut it mostly comes up to himhave a reputation for being pretty difficult to deal with. That being said, he has stated on numerous occasions that he really likes our project and that he really likes Connerton, which is another project in the middle of the county. I think the reason he likes our project is because he trusts the developers on a personal level.
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WM: The Starkeys being the developers?
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FS: Yeah, well were the applicant at this point. And in the case of Connerton the developer is Terra Brook. But I think both of these projects have development aspects that he likes. He likes the New Urbanism that were doing. He knows that were committed to environmental preservation. He knows that were committed to doing the right thing and that what were doing will be a good thing in the county.
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And I know he feels the same way about Connerton. To the extent that makes things easier for us, we dont know. (laughs) One would hope that if he really likes the project not if he likes us, but if he likes the project then he should make it easier for the project to get through. He may also take the attitude that, Your project is going to make you a lot of money. Why shouldnt I get something that benefits the county out of it? So we dont know what thats going to be like but everybody says its pretty difficult, or at a minimum very expensive.
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WM: You said hed make you do something that willthe county will get something out of, could youI mean thats a little vague for me
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FS: Oh, getting sites for county facilities, like fire stations or libraries or building major road improvements, off site. Usually the biggest expense that DRIs have to deal with is the transportation impacts, mitigation. Usually what it comes down to is the county wants to get roads built. DRIs are a nice big fat juicy check that gets some big roads built. Sometimes he might push that.
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WM: So that the developer would end-up building the road rather than the county or the Department of Transportation?
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FS: Right.
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WM: Okay.
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FS: The pretense of the DRI is that your project is so big that it has this regional impact. Before you come in here and have this regional impact and expect the rest of the region to absorb that impact, you need to mitigate that impact. Whether its building roads to handle the traffic that youre going to be creating by all of these new people that are living and working on your project and driving to and from.
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So building roads is the biggest one. If youre going to be negativelyif youre building a power plant, for example which is another type of DRI, thats going to be belching black smoke into the sky with great environmental impact, you need to mitigate somehow. Whatever the impact, the pretext is that youre somehow mitigating that as part of your project, rather than the county at large absorbing that.
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WM: Okay. So you are halfway through the DRI process? Your father talked about when you were proposing Starkey Ranch you had some of the neighboring landowners come in to discuss the project with them. Tell me about those meetings.
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FS: We didnt really have meetings. We had a public presentation after we did a design charrette, theres that word again, for the Town Center neighborhood, which is from here to Gunn Highway, basically. We had a public presentation that we just opened up to the general public. And after we got our master plan done and were getting close to submitting the original DRI application, we had an open house and invited the general public to. We never really had formalized meetings with the adjacent landowners; our main adjacent landowner is SWIFTMUD. They own the majority of our perimeter.
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WM: What kind of turnout did you have for the open houses?
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FS: Oh, about a 100 to 120 people for each of them.
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WM: Thats a pretty good turnout. Who were they? Who came? Were they friends looking for free food or what?
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FS: (laughs) Some were looking for free food andyou know some were people that we know in the community that were interested in seeing what were doing. Both of those open houses were held in Longleaf, so there were Longleaf residents that came to see what was going on. A few people who live in surrounding areas nearby. The feedback that we got was generally very positive.
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We didnt get any negative feedback that said, This is terrible. You shouldnt be doing it. The feedback that we got was constructive criticism. Ironic things likeits funny because two of the basic things of New Urbanism are having taller buildings, not skyscrapers but not having everything be one story. And trying to downplay the predominance of the automobile. Not fill-up every square inch with parking lots and things. And some of the comments we got were, Its great, just dont do multi-story buildings and make sure there is plenty of parking. (both laugh) Which is basically somebody who didnt really get it. But that was as bad as any comment that we got.
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WM: Why the negative reaction against multi-story buildings?
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FS: I think that was just a general suburban bias, that somebody, I dont know, maybe they were in a wheelchair. I think somebody who associated multi-story buildings with something negative. But I really dont know.
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WM: Okay. But I had to ask. Anyhow, the Starkey Ranch project is still in its formative stages? What kind of pressure do you have from real estate agents? You know, people looking to buy the land.
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FS: Weve had that pressure forever. Weve had people cold-calling us forever. Dad had it and when Trey started working here in eighty-five [1985], he started taking those calls. I get them sometime if people push the wrong extension number. Were not looking to sell but weve answered that question so many times we dont even think about it. (laughs)
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But the answer is: Yes, there has always been a lot of pressure. Well occasionally entertain some larger development companies that have come in with a prettyweve listened to some songs and dances. Weve been flown to different parts of the country to see projects by different developers. Weve had a few dances, but weve not signed on with anybody.
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WM: Okay. Well Ive been throwing questions at you for about the past two hours. Is there anything you want to comment on that I havent asked about?
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FS: Not really. Im kind of talked out. But youre welcome to ask some more.
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WM: No, Im about talked out myself. And there comes a point in interviews where you reach the point of diminishing returns, where you just get tired from talking and tired from listening, if thats possible.
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FS: I understand.
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WM: I always remind people that the information youve shared with me is going to be deposited in the Special Collections of the University of South Florida Library and be available for people doing research on land-use policy and development practices. In order for these researchers to have access to this information there is a release form that I have to ask you to sign. I always like to put that on the tape.
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FS: Thats fine. Ill be happy to sign.
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WM: And thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Ive really enjoyed this. Also, Ive been photographing everybody Ive interviewed. Do you have any objections to that?
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FS: Nope.
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WM: Okay great. Well let me stop this thing.



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C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0

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Land Use Oral History Project Patel Center for Global Solutions University of South Florida Interview with: Frank Starkey Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Odessa, Florida Date: August 24, 2006 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Fra nk Starkey & Wm. Mansfield Audit Edited by: Kyle Burke Audit Edit Date: January 25, 2008 Final Edit by: Nicole Cox Final Edit Date: January 28, 2008 WM: This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Florida Special Collections Library, talking to Mr. Frank Starkey in the Starkey Ranch offices in Odessa, Florida, on August 24, 2006. And, we always get people to start out by having them state their name and telling us when they were born and where they were born. So let her go. FS: All right. My na Hospital, in Tampa. WM: Okay. And tell me what is your current occupation? um education was in architecture at Rice University, in Houston, [Texas]. I g ot an undergraduate degree in architecture and a professional degree (which is called a Bachelor of Architecture) in 1991 and 1993, respectively, both from Rice. working on a Development of Regional Impact on the Starkey Ranch, which is about twenty neighborhood development called Longleaf, which is about five hundred and sixty eight acres on t he west end of the ranch. father earlier he said that he sold that land to you and your brother to develop? [See J. B. Starkey, Jr. interview with Bill Mansfield 8 9 06] FS: Um huh.

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2 WM: Tell me about the origins of, the genesis of the idea to develop Longleaf as a different sort of subdivision. ah when I came back to work with Trey in 1995, shortly thereafter we started talking with John Hudson, who at the time owned Regency Communities, which was a major builder in Pasco County. [He] built in west Pasco, primarily. He later sold his business to Ryland Homes. But at the time, John was the ow ner of Regency Communities and looking for a piece of property to do a gated golf course, retirement, age restricted community. So we started off by talking with John about doing a joint venture wherein John would provide the would be the exclusive homeb uilder and provide up front cash to get the project started. Our family would throw in the land and somehow Trey and I would be involved with the management of the project. Um as we got into the land planning of it and running economics it became apparent that in order to make the numbers work not enough? FS: Okay. In order to make the financial side of it work, John really needed to have a certain number of houses to balance t he costs of the golf course, and the gate and all of the other amenities. WM: Um huh. hundred and sixty eight acres that comprises Longleaf. The main boundary was St arkey Boulevard, which is the eastern boundary of Longleaf and separates it from the rest of the ranch. worthwhile? FS: Right. WM: Okay. FS: Starkey Boulevard, and there i s big power line easement, or power line right of way next to it, created a big barrier that was difficult to cross. To have the golf course cross building a road bridge or expense. You also probably need some way to get the cars across within the gated system.

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3 So, if you were going to jump across Starkey Boulevard at all, you needed to jump across in a big way. So the land, to the east of the power line, at the time was owned by Dad and other members of our family, including our siblings estate. Where the land that is Longleaf, west of the power line [belonged to] Dad exclusively, the land on the east side we had to deal with other family members now. The concept there was we had to go so much bigger [that] it kind of made the project need to double in size. So, two thirds of it would have been the golf course, age restricted stuff Trey and I had always wanted to do we had been talking for several years about wanting to do a New Urbanist project. So the idea was that the remainder of it would be a New Urbanist project. That deal fell apart, due to some internal dynamics about de aling with the family land. So we really were not able to deal with that. We were faced with the decision, in 1997, whether to continue with the gated golf course ow participate. So he would do it, [but only] as a straight land sale. Under some kind of terms, but basically a land sale. So our choice was to sell it to him, or go it on o ur own and do a different kind of project. project. Or we could do it ourselves an d do what we want to do in terms of developing in a New Urbanist fashion. It was our belief that New Urbanism was the best way to develop that met most of our to go ahead and do it now. FS: Sure. WM: You said that you and your brother had been thinking about New Urbanism and you figured that was the best way to meet your development goals? FS: Uh huh WM: Elabora te on that, if you could please. (laughs)

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4 ts of things. Dad, probably told you about growing up on the Ulmerton Ranch and seeing what happened to that. WM: Um huh. FS: During the whole time that Trey and I and our sisters were growing up here, we knew that [the spread of] development coming in this direction was inevitable. I always tell people the story that when I was going to elementary school, every year on new subdivision. So growth, marching in our dire ction has been a reality [for] our entire lives. Interestingly, newcomers are more shocked by the growth than we are. Newcomers So we always knew it w as coming in this direction, but Dad really instilled in us a belief remain undeveloped for ever, at least not all of it. If there was going to be development on the lan idea that developed over time and it still developing today, really. good word. WM: Nondesc ript? FS: Yeah, nondescript is probably more like it. Automobile oriented, everything that people talk about, as [being] bad with [the suburban] sprawl was something that Dad identified yearly on. Mom too. A lot of that goes back to their growing up year s. say in a medium density urban context. Dad grew up on a ranch out in the country but also understood small towns. They both, I think, had a sense that there was something really lacking socially and culturally in the suburban sprawl that was heading our way. They also had a strong sentiment for the natural environment, and I think instilled in us a love and appreciation for that environment. I think we all just kind of grew up just knowing that needed to be protected. Of course Granddad set the major exa mple of protecting [the environment] by his donations and gifts and sale to SWIFTMUD [Southwest Florida Water Management

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5 District], to keep a significantly sized piece of Florida wilderness in pristine shape, forever. So those two strains, one is the cultu ral side of the placelessness of suburbia, to use a cliched term, and the environmental preservation side, to use another cliched term. Those two strains were really part of our fiber as we were growing up. WM: Um huh. FS: So, I think your question was development goals. FS: So what were those goals? WM: Yes, what were the development goals? FS: So the development goals were to preserve the environment and create a place that fostered a real kind of community and fostered meaningful relationships among people. much about fostering community building. Let me be more specific about t hat. [I mean] fostering geographically located communities. You know there is all kinds of talk these days about community. There is the community of bottle rocket launchers. WM: (laughs) FS: There is [a] community of bloggers, there is the gay community things that are not geographically based. But what New Urbanism is about is geographical communities. WM: Uh huh. it creates the opportunity to leave nature untouched. And the good thing about that is catchall term. patterns so we are living on The downside to that is that the house may have a light environmental footprint, but do it.

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6 WM: Well, I was going to ask where did the Indians park their car? ive to work. So it is not really a realistic model. The other model is to cluster our development, our settlement patterns and leave places that are truly untouched as opposed to only lightly touched. So New Urbanism has the opportunity to leave places th at are completely untouched, but are nearby to the settlement patterns so that people who are living in the settled area have, nearby, honest to goodness, untouched wilderness that they can go out and interact with. As opposed to sliced up abstracted wild really the same thing. WM: Just briefly, where were you introduced to notion of New Urbanism? Was that in architect school? FS: I guess it was Seaside, [Florida] which was really the initial New Urbanist p roject that really got that movement started That started in 1980, but it started really hitting the press in the early nineties which was when I was finishing up school. I had professors who were colle agues of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater Zyberk who were the planners of Seaside. WM: Say those names again slowly please. FS: Oh. Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater Zyberk. DPZ [Duany Plater Zyberk] is the name of their firm. They designed Seaside and among others started the New Urbanism movement. So I was aware of it in college but it was not something that was ever really taught or talked about in my training. I did learn urbanism. I learned a lot about urban design and the curriculum at Rice, at the time, was very focused on urban design issues and designing in an urban context those kinds of things. The title of my professional degree is actually Bachelor of Architecture and Urban Design. Urban design is in there. So I was exposed to the issues, I did do one course that was about new towns. I was always interested in this stuff through college. It was always near and dear [to me] because of what was happening on the ranch. WM: Um huh. FS: So I did do a class that had one other student, with the architectural history professor; looking at the New Town movement, which, in some ways, was the predecessor [of] New Urbanism, but the New Town movement was in the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

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7 WM : So, really it was the impact of Seaside, up near Destin that introduced you to the idea of New Urbanism? FS: Yeah. cided that you could develop this as a New Urban community? FS: Yeah. WM: Okay. So tell me about the design process. How you collected your thoughts and organized this community? FS: The design of a New Urban he design. I New Urban projects. One of which is called Windsor, over near Vero Beach, that was indsor. How So I called Geoff Ferrell and he gave me the ah grand tour. Jeff, at the time was working as the town architect at Windsor. He had worked at DPZ before that and had ured the place. That was right when I was first back in Florida. WM: Um huh. FS: And about a year later, I was on his mailing list and he sent out a card [announcing] that he had opened his own firm to do town planning. About a year later we were starti ng to do our town plan here, so I called Geoff and asked if he would come to do a charrette to lay out Longleaf? WM: Do a what? WM: Okay. FS: The people who started New Urbanism were architects, as opposed to planne rs. WM: Uh huh.

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8 based. Most planning movements and the planning profession is all about policy. New Urbanism is much more about form. Policy is secondary. Form is first building form, street form, blocks, neighborhoods, and even regional form. In the field of architecture there is a term called charrettes [spelling] C H A R R E T T E, which is French for carts. It dates back to t he Ecole des Beaux Arts, which was the original architecture school. There is all sorts of lore about what the term means, but over project getting ready for a deadl ine and staying up all night and working very intensely The New Urbanists and DPZ kind of started designing projects in a charrette format. So one of the hallmarks of New Urbanism is doing charrettes. In designing a project by charrette means getting all of the clients, the architects and designers, any kind of specialists, whether they are transportation designers or engineers, civil engineers, retail specialists, even marketing people getting all of the people who are go ing to be involved in developing a project into the same room at the same time. And over the period of a week or so, sometimes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter, they will p lanning? taken it kind of front loads most of the design work. Sometimes it will go into designing actual buildings but at least setting up the architectural tone and the style for the buildings and laying out the streets and deciding which streets will have what kind of character and all of that. So Geoff organized a charrette with Armando Montero who is an architect that he had worked with, who is from Miami, and Suzanne Aske w Lauter, who is a landscape architect and some other people, Tom Spain, who is a professor at the University of Miami. where the planning came from. WM: Um huh. F S: That identified the locations of the neighborhoods and the architectural character that we would go for, the arrangement of the green space the green belt between the neighborhoods, and the architectural code that would govern the design of the houses. That all came out of that charrette. It was all refined over time and continues to be refined, but that was where it started.

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9 and laid out the plans for the housing types? FS: (Nods head affirmative) WM: So how did you I guess the question I want to ask is [about] your interaction with the local um FS: Regulators? WM: Right, the county government, and the state government I suppose. state, because we were not a DRI sized project. We had environmental permits from SWIFTMUD to get. And I guess there are DEP [Department of Environmental Protection permits] for the sewer system, and wastewater and storm water and whatever those things are The county government, at that time, in stark contrast as to how they are today, h ad a pretty hands classification called MPUD, which stands for Master Planned Unit Development. WM: Master Plan what? FS: [Master Planned] Unit Development. That when you read the in tent paragraph, at the eloper to propose alternates of design standards, that were different from the regular land development regulations that govern set backs and street widths and building types and all of the formal things of development. So we used the MPUD process to get our permits, because one of the big things about zoning codes that were put in place in the twentieth century in jurisdictions all across the country. In order to get around that you have to either seek a whole bunch of variances, in the case of the MPUD, we were able to do it through alternative design standards. The County was pretty um and it makes charming little streets and the mixing of uses is good and having apartments lots, with community parks in exchange for that lot savings was a good thing.

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10 WM: More pu blic space in exchange for less private space? FS: Yeah, exactly. Um having alleys behind the houses is a good thing because it restores architecture to houses on the street. Raising the floor elevations and putting front porches on houses is a good thi thing for society. Having narrower streets is an important part of that recipe. Your street standards in the land development codes are too wide, so we need to be able to have na rrower streets. [We requested] all of these kinds of things. There were a few [items that the County questioned]. Our colleagues, doing New Urbanism across the country and across the state in different jurisdictions mostly had horror stories about getti ng permits to do this stuff that was technically illegal. Even though it had been done for hundreds of years before zoning fire marshal to sign off on narrow streets a nd all these things. they were willing to work with us. They were open to the ideas and also, frankly, they were not [taking] a [position] to stand in the way of a developer who is wi lling to put their own money at risk. WM: You said there were [a] few points of contention with the County? FS: Minor things. What was usually the most onerous problem that other developers ran into was the fire marshal. [He] wanted to have streets [wher e] he could drive biggest fire truck known to man, without having to slow down or put it in reverse at any point, ever. And who can argue with the fire chief because he is about saving lives? And who can argue against saving lives? So we expected this big [resistance] from the fire chief. He had one point that he made, there were some intersections of alleys with one way streets that needed to be wider. Which was a good point, and yes, you still need to be able to get fire trucks through. The question is, just how fast? So that was not really a point of contention. That was a point WM: You said that the County, the board that regulates I guess it would be the [Board of] County Commissioners? FS: Yeah, and the DRC, the Development Review Commission understand it or because you all were putting up your own money for this? How would you explain that?

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11 FS: Um I thi nk there was starting to be enough press about New Urbanism that they knew enough that they liked it. I think they trusted us because we were local, born and raised here personal trust there. Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins. FS: Then I think you know knew all of those people personally and they knew us. I think there is a certain level of trust there that is not altogether common in those regulator/regulated relationships. WM: Okay. One of the things I read in that article is that there well okay so the regulatory part of county government was fine with this. What about the building community what kind of reaction did you get? FS: That was a harder sell, frankly. WM: Tell me about that. FS: The um homebuilders ar e because of the dynamics of that business, not really of that market, but of that business, homebuilders tend to be pretty conservative, when it comes to developing new products. By extension of that concept, the development community tends to be pretty c onservative when it comes to developing new products. A lot of that is because the model of market study is to look at what has sold to predict what will sell. WM: Um huh. orked WM: (laughs) FS: But the home building and development community are pretty conservative about developing new stuff. So the industry has distilled, especially in this particular market, the home building typologies down to basically one [type of house] the three/two split plan. Which is a three bedroom, two bathroom [floor plan], where the master b edroom is on one side, the living areas are in the center of the house and the other two bedrooms are

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12 building type that has been built a zillion times. Most homebuilde rs are used to portfolio of ten to a hundred versions of this type that they are used to building. an alley in the back. The second you presented them with an alley loaded lot, they were starting over with a blank usually, either in marketing or customer service, o design. WM: Um huh. hese other crazy things, at the time crazy things about our community village greens, narrow streets, picket fences. We wanted the floor elevations to all be raised two to three feet. We wanted front porches on everything. They thought front porches were cute but they thought they were just an added cost. They really add that to their sales price. To them it was a cost item but not an increased sales price item. They saw the same thing with raised floor elevation. It was too outside of their normal box, of what they were used to selling. the Depression that any of this stuff was really built. ose floor plans because family dynamics have changed. People want bigger rooms, more storage; so it really was a trick to develop new floor plans for it. That was kind of the fundamental push back. Once you got past that, the builders that were willing to look at it were very you know it was a high risk thing for them. There were two sets of builders we were able to talk to. The first set were national builders, like David Weekley and Morrison, both of whom had built in Celebration which at that time w as the first big scale production housing TND or Traditional Neighborhood Development. So they were the only builders that did have product on their shelves that they could build in Longleaf, with alley loaded lots and stuff.

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13 They still were companies who for the most part, built that three/two split plan. But their decision was there were two New Urbanist projects on the boards in the Tampa Bay area. One of them was in Westchase, which at the time was the fastest selling master planned community in the B ay area for several years running. [It] had very strong value appreciation and was a very well managed project by an established development company. The other project that they had to choose from was Longleaf, which was a new project, much further out fro easy decision [to go to Westchase.] ith our dice dice on two of these projects at the same time in the Bay area. The other group of builders that we were able to talk to were local production builders. guys who built fifty to three hundred houses a year um on a production scale. But WM: Now would a production builder be kind of like an assembly line? Would it involve pre fabricated parts? FS: Not pre WM: But sort of an assembly line thought? FS: Kind o f. Yeah starts with a customer and a blank piece of paper. A production builder, by definition (FS questions WM about the time and length of the interview) they build volume, repetitively, where the custom builder builds one house once. WM: Okay. builder. They might sta rt with a customer with a stock floor plan and then make changes to that stock floor plan. But they are not starting with a blank piece of paper and drawing it from the ground up. WM: Okay. So you attracted a small production builder? FS: There were thre e local production builders who were willing to take the risk to the first round.

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14 WM: Okay. One of the things I read in the paper said something about a threatened lawsu it about builders perhaps contesting some of the design plans? WM: Okay. Perhaps I [misremembered] it or the paper got it wrong. The notes I took FS: Oh comprehensive land use changes comp plan changes. One of those changes has to do with rural protection areas where they want to require traditional neighborhood development. Kind of like what St. Lucie County was doing, but not quite as sophisticated. They were wanting to require TND standards up there. Some of the people who lead the Pasco Builders Association threatened to sue the county the way it came across in the article was it was fact we resigned from the PBA [Pasco Builders Association] when t hey made that threat. friends and influencing people. WM: Okay. So that is completely separate and apart from Longleaf? FS: Right. WM: Anyhow, back to our story, y ou got the local builders to come on board with the community, to build the houses? FS: Yeah. WM: Okay. What came next? FS: Well how long have you got [for this interview]? (laughs) WM: I brought another disc with me. So if we fill this one up, we can start filling up the other one. FS: What direction do you want to go. I can give you the whole history of Longleaf, but that would probably take three days. So FS: (laughs) Okay.

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15 WM: I guess FS: We did have push back from we had a lot of things we had to overcome with the builders about the design of the houses and about getting them to understand what the whole project was about. That was a challenge. For the most part, I think we got them there on the exterior design services or in house design. architects that were used to working in this typology, with the garage in back. What I discovered was that they had all designed houses dozens of times. They had designed [their houses], built them and sold t anything about how to do that better, on the interior plan. I knew that I had to change what they were designing on the exterior of the houses. I had to teach them about why a porch has to be eight feet deep an plans of a three/two spl it plan, where the locations of the rooms are already set and all fying it, but they were really at a loss for how to make good product floor plan decisions in a new building typology that was just different from the three/two split plan [that they were accustomed to]. It was also different from our narrowest lots to o ur widest lots. You have very different is a whole different [question] when the garage is in the back, instead of the front. And I insisted on having living rooms, o r dining rooms you know public, the living spaces of the house, [some of which] needed to be on the front of the house. But how do you get that on the front of the house when Floridians are used to having their living room overlooking their pool in the ba ck. There is away to solve that but they Then the next challenge was getting the buyers to understand it. There was a lot of education required to teach buyers who are us ed to driving into a subdivision with a feet wide and cost $150,000. Or, turning left to go to a pod where the houses were all forty feet wide and cost $120,000. You know the next pod down was the pool. You know [the subdivisions] were pretty straightforward and they had gone into twenty five

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16 of these subdivisions the weekend before and then they go into Longleaf and are presented with something completely different. hundred sq thousand drove out. Some buyers drove in three, four, eight, nine, ten times before they really understood it and then they loved it. WM: Um huh. FS: People were not generally neutral about Longleaf. They either really loved it or they really disliked it. Or they really loved it but f all of these new features outside the house. Before you even got to the fact that [when] they walk in the front door they are not going to be looking straight through the living room to the pool, they are going to be looking at a different floor plan, that is not just like the twenty [houses] they went [into] in the other subdivisions. We have a lot to explain to buyers, which mad e the selling process a lot longer. But once buyers moved in the experience was I think the buyers kind of self selected, especially in the early years. So we had people move in who were really excited about building community and really excited about all of the new friends they were going to make. Subsequently our first group of buyers were instantly fast friends and this really strong, close knit community was started right off the bat. That changed as the place grew bigger. More people moved in and it b ecame less strange. More people moved in because they thought it was a good investment, or moved in because they thought it would be good to be near the school, more moved in for reasons ll feel strongly about Longleaf that some of the earlier ones were. So that sense of community slowly diluted over time. But it is still, I would submit, much stronger than any other subdivision. WM: That was my next question. You said that people seemed to either love it or hate it? FS: Um huh. WM: You mentioned the strong sense of community as being one of the attractive aspects. What were some of the other things t hat people liked about the Longleaf Community?

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17 FS: They liked the houses. They liked the privacy they can have in their back yard. Ironically, the conceit of suburbanism suburban sprawly houses with a three/two split plan is that you have all of this house backs up to a swamp you have neighbors in your backyard neighbors a lot more. The way the houses in Longleaf were laid out with out going into the details of it, creates a n entirely private back yard and a front side that is much more civicly interactive than a big garage with a driveway in the front would be. People liked that. They liked that you could walk places and the walk was interesting. They liked having the schoo l and pre school in there. They liked the idea of the downtown, with the shops that they could walk to. leave a parcel [of land] up at the front, up on the main ro ad, for commercial development. When they go to develop that, the residents in the subdivision scream in protest. They hate it and they are all mad because there is going to be development. They perceive [that the commercial development will bring crime an d damage their property values] and all this bad stuff. In Longleaf, because everybody understands how the commercial is integrated in the neighborhood and they bought there hoping that commercial [property] would be there as an amenity. They are actually (chuckles) When we finally did build the commercial I think some people have actually boycotted it. WM: Put a Wal Mart in there and see what happens! FS: (Laughs) Yeah! I guess they are driving down to Wal Mart instead. WM: But is the commercial aspect of Longleaf there yet or in the process of moving in? retail and apartment (mixed use building) is a hair salon, a jewelry store, a dry cleaner, a cigar bar, [and] one regular office user, in that building. Then there is a catering and take out, hot meals, they are working on their finish out right now. street. There is som e commercial done, more to come. WM: Okay, so that the community ends up being within walking distance of these services is some of the appeal?

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18 FS: Yeah. was just FS: The one we would always hear the most is that they perceived that the houses were too close together and the lot s were too small. Fact of the matter is that the houses are not really closer together nor are the lots appreciably smaller than most of the other contemporary subdivisions that are being built. But I think, people the houses are closer to the street. In the early stages of construction houses that are built appear closer together because there is all of this open space next to them. Once the neighborhood is built o ut and there is not all of that open space next to it; it looks right. But in the early stages, which is when [we were] getting [those] reactions, it looks that way. i n a place where there is an expectation of community involvement. Some people are just anti stereo type of a nosey neighbor] of the neighborhood being in their business all the time. WM: (laugh) Right. So how close is Longleaf to completion? Or being built out, or whatever the term is? FS: There are a little over three hundred homes [that are] about three hundred more lots that are developed right now, with houses that are under hundred. Then there is about six hundred more dwelling units left to go after that. [That includes] multi family single family and some large lots too. WM: Um huh. FS: So ah done with the commercial. WM: One of the [articles] I read about New Urbanism and the mixture of different kinds how has that developed at Longleaf? got no w four, pretty simple attached products the traditional term is town homes. Those range in size from about thirteen hundred square feet, up to eighteen hundred square feet.

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19 family homes, on smal l, town. Eventually those may become condominiums, but for now they are apartments. Then another thing we have is d welling units garage apartments granny flats whatever term you want to call it on their lot. That creates sort of noticeable (but harder to track) stratum of housing price. Those are limited in size to no more than seven hundred and fifty square feet. They going to be bigger than a one bedroom apartment. More often than not they are really no more than a studio. laws who live in those and some others that have them rented out. Some just have them as bonus room s or game rooms for the kids, or whatever. Craft rooms, studios. WM: What kind of diversity is there in Longleaf, [and] I mean ethnically and economically? FS: I think there is a fair degree of economic diversity. There are some people who moved in in th e early years, before the real estate market went crazy in the last couple of house in there now. And there are some people who sailed in, because they loved it and bough t the biggest wanted more. Some people have pretty lavish houses and some people have pretty modest houses. [There is] far less ethnic diversity than I would like, frankly. And less than you would expect. Although Pasco has historically been extremely white, compared to [the surrounding counties.] Several years ago I was a member of the Tampa Bay Leadership Class. We visited one of the [public] high schools in Pasco County all of the people that were from Pinellas and Hillsborough County were freaked out that there were no black h higher African American populations [in their schools]. This just shocked me, but about Latinos. There are a couple of Latinos, but I think they are second or third [Longleaf] is surprisingly not diverse. But not for lack of trying. (laughs)

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20 WM: The people, who live in Longleaf, do they commute out to St. Pete, and New Port Richey and Tampa to work? FS: Yeah. WM: So it is still sort of a commuter community? FS: Yeah, it pretty much is. There are a number of people who w ork out of their homes, who have home based businesses. A lot of people work nearby two thousand square feet, that [houses] an engineering firm. There is on e man who lives in Longleaf who used to work there he was a landscape architect that worked for that engineering firm, quit to open his own practice and then eventually quit that, and now works for another engineering firm down in Tampa. Then they have ano ther guy who works for FDC [Florida Design Consultants] who lives in Longleaf. Those are the ones that I know of. There might be a couple of more. WM: So what do you s ee for the future of Longleaf? I mean best case scenario and worst case scenario? FS: In terms of what? WM: Of its um continued growth, or maybe a better question would be the spread of the concept of New Urbanism. FS: I think the idea of New Urbanism i since we started Longleaf. I mean Longleaf is still one of the early projects, nation wide. generation [of New Urban developments] but it was the first generation of [the] nex t generation projects, and larger projects. But since then I think the list of projects was forty, nation wide when we started, then it exponentially. I think that as development regulation pressures increase, in different jurisdictions around the country and as land costs and development costs increase and as energy costs increase Tape 1 ends; Tape 2 begins. FS: the natural tendency for all settlements is to densify village or a small town or a big city, or a metropolis. Overtime they always densify.

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21 I mean they became less dense in the twentieth century, but that was unnatural because of the cars and some ot her economic and political [events] that were pushing that. But the way that humans settle, left to their own devices, we have a tendency to densify. In the current land use regulation environment that tendency to densify is really being accelerated. As development costs, material cost and energy costs (which are all interrelated) go up then density, but if you densify it, it just takes a bad thing and makes it worse.) acre subdivision, at three units to the acre and make it ten units to the acre and have it still work. You have to change the form. I think New Urbansi m is the answer to changing that form. There also needs to be a change in the transportation patterns, which is directly tied to our energy consumption and New Urbanism is the best answer to that. I think over time, [to answer your question] it has to forc e itself into being what it is. Right now it is sort of a political hot potato. It gets the label of New Urbamism, which is well Development is a very emotional topic in general. But on a rational basis urban forms are Our primary transportation mode is at the bottom of our legs and not parked in the garage. WM: (laughs) that New Urbanism will grow. In terms of what will happe n with Longleaf, I think the good thing about [New] Urbanism is that it gets better as it gets built built out faster. They understand that it gets better the more there is. The more houses that are there the mo re neighbors there are to support the community. The more buyers there are to support the businesses. It all really gets better with age. So as Longleaf builds out more business will come in and be able to thrive. The place will be built out so that places that are empty spaces now, that make other things look funny, that make the houses look too close together, as those get filled in with buildings that are useful and create nice urban places it gets better. I think the long range you know the build out scenario is much better than it is today.

PAGE 23

22 concept of New Urbanism. FS: Yes. fath er about his perspective on the land and what it means. He told me about your than he does? FS: Yes I do. I think I guess I bring the social and cultural side back to it. To me the value of the land it has intrinsic value as a natural system and a natural environment and all of that. But to me there is a great potential value in the in teraction between the humans and [the land]. The benefits Laura frames it in mutual benefits between humans and the environment. We benefit from each other. [See Laura Starkey interview with Bill Mansfield 8 9 06.] ng on benefit from us, beside just to mitigate our own screwing it up. But I do think we have a great benefit to gain from an experience and interaction on a daily and ordinary level. National Parks, for example, ar e a phenomenal resource and a wonderful thing. Everybody should see the Grand Canyon at some point in their lives [as well as] Yosemite and the Great Smokey Mountains and all of those places. But those are sort of once in a lifetime experiences. WM: The e xception? FS: Yeah. You also need to have a patch of woods where you run into frogs and the trees From my own personal [perspective] had WM: Um huh. always jealous. I was jealous of them because they had neighbors who lived within a couple of blocks. They could ride their bikes to [visit], and one of them might have a pool or there might be a community pool. There was this whole social network that I lacked, [by living] out here. So Longleaf and New Urbanism, for m e, has been an opportunity for me to present the best of those two worlds to future generations.

PAGE 24

23 vacation, and mix that with the benefit of having neighbors and frie nds, places to go and people to share it with, a community to be a part of. WM: Um huh that nature. He has been very his land management style and his cattle ranchin g style his agricultural practices, I perceive as being very interactive with the environment. you know um you know toward sustainable development patterns and environmental sustainability at the same time. Sort of a different angle on the same thing. WM: When you all proposed doing Longleaf I talked to your father and he said he hated the idea of development. I think it was the land down around Largo that got developing the land, what kind of reaction did you get? for doing what we did with Longleaf. He was glad to see that it was [Traditional Neighborhood Design] and not the [standard split up in]. The ho use he grew up [in] is still there on the corner, but the rest of it He was glad to see us do what we were doing and he understood the ideas behind what we were doing. Still, I think it breaks his heart to see the houses in the pastures that he hard for him to see it happen. I think if he had a choice he would have left it all alone. (Recorder is paused) WM: Let me turn this thing back on. But, anyhow, you said your father was more ambivalent about developing Longleaf than you were? FS: Yeah, not to be semantic but [he was] not so much ambivalent [but had] mixed emotions.

PAGE 25

24 WM: When I talked with him he mentioned the next phase, of developing Starkey Ranch. That was large enough to require the DRI p lanning on that. Where would you want to start in telling me about that? started Longleaf one of the major goals there was to figure out how to do New Urbanism. To learn a bout it and do a test run, on a number of levels, for the rest of the ranch. It was really kind of a dress rehearsal for the main corpus of the ranch development. ust sell it to be another conventional project and defer that learning curve. It was a steep when we were still ah younger than we are now. (laughs) But that being sa Dad and three of us four kids and two cousins. FS: Correct. Starkey Land Company was formed by taking what were a number of disparate owners hips of different pieces of land and throwing them all into one land part of it, so we bought her out as part of that process. Instead of a bunch of different pieces frui t, we have one smoothie. WM: Okay. FS: At the same time, as a family, as the Starkey Land Company, board of directors, which is those people I mentioned before, we went through an intentional strategic planning process to develop our own mission statemen t and goals and values and operating systems, reporting structures and accountability and all of that stuff. Whereas Longleaf was Trey and me doing the management of the project, with financial support form Mom and Dad, this is now Trey and me managing a project with well financial support from the whole family but we also have more people to answer to. WM: Um huh. FS: But we also have a larger overall vision to answer to as well, a more clarified overall know if Dad told you our mission statement the other day? FS: Alright, our consultants told us that we all needed a to recite this at the drop of a hat,

PAGE 26

25 family legacy of foresight and partnership with the land, balancing environmental, social every word in that sentence is very loaded and meaningfu l. It kind of comes down to the three legged stool of financial, social and environmental an Land Institute magazines, talking about that three legged stool. Environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, social sustainability people have different terms for those three things but is taking about now. ing all of that in a way that is economically beneficial to us, but also sustainable. that in mind. What we came up with [is mapped out on] this master plan up here, on the wall (referring to the map). There are basically five major neighborhood areas that are more complete neighborhoods. because of the way the geography of the ra nch laid out. We were able to get a full sized pedestrian shed which is a half mile diameter circle for each neighborhood. When you look at the land with those goals in mind the plan kind of makes itself. Then we put together a consulting team to help u s pull all of that together in the best way possible. WM: That I want to say Grandy ? FS: Glatting Jackson? WM: Glatting Jackson, okay. FS: Glatting Jackson is the planning team, planning firm and the environmental consultant. Some of the transportat ion planning is in there. Then Florida Design Consultants, which is the firm that has their office on Longleaf, did the civil engineering and transportation planning. And Ben Harrill is our legal counsel. Then there is geo technical and all kinds of other [consultants]. There are a few other consultants that are part of that team as well. WM: Okay. Your father mentioned the DRI, the larger plan about how this will impact governm or hinder you in this.

PAGE 27

26 You star t off by negotiating in written documents back and forth with all of the various agencies that have any kind of jurisdiction anywhere near here. WM: Could you go over those various agencies? FS: Department of Transportation, Department of Community Affa irs, Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corps of Engineers, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County ah Regional Planning Council ah School Board. WM: Is SWIFTMUD in there somewhere? FS: SWIFTMUD yep. And any others you can think of are probably in there. (laughs) WM: Okay. FS: And the Regional Planning Council coordinates, kind of administrates the formal correspondence, but basically everybody makes comments on the application. The application has to deal with all sorts of differ ent like twenty eight different questions that have to be answered. Everything from whether your impact is on roads, the natural environment, storm water, affordable housing, schools, fire, water, sewer, parks every level of infrastructure and environment, what are your impacts going to be? You have to quantify that and study it and measure it. Then they provide their input. eight very big questions to answer. (Referring to bookshelf) T hese three inch [thick] green binders are applications and responses. Each level of response gets to be a thicker and thicker document. So we go through that with all of the regulatory agencies. gotiations with Pasco Pasco, in the last several years, has become notorious statewide for being extremely difficult to deal with. For making unreasonable demands and [ having unreasonable] expectations. WM: No. Like I said, when you read over the transcript, if you want this stricken from the record we can do this.

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27 FS: If it is not going to be listened t the newspaper next week I do care. WM: Well who would you negotiate with, planning commission, the c ounty commissioners? FS: The County Administrator is really who it comes down to. WM: Okay. FS: Most of this has to do with the way John Gallagher is the Pasco County Administrator and he is the longest tenured county administrator in the state. [He] do es a good job, but he micro manages to a certain degree. He also has been getting pretty horsy, requiring things of DRIs and developers that on to require. ighting back the developers who are being unreasonable. What we keep hearing from people is that it is a pretty arduous process. He ends up extracting a lot more than he ought to be able to, but nobody it. WM: Is that kind of attitude does that hinder development? it. His Thinking as a disinterested citizen, I think he probably does the right thing, although it may run down the line of being legally defensible you So he and the county but it mostly comes up to him have a reputation for being pr etty difficult to deal with. That being said, he has stated on numerous occasions that he really likes our project and that he really likes Connerton, which is another project in the middle of the county. I think the reason he likes our project is because he trusts the developers on a personal level. WM: The Starkeys being the developers?

PAGE 29

28 FS: Yeah developer is Terra Brook. But I think both of these projects have development aspects t And I know he feels the same way about Connerton. To the extent that makes things not if he likes us, but if he likes the project then he should make it easier for the project to get t hrough. t a minimum very expensive. [elaborate on that?] FS: Oh, getting sites for county facilities, like fire stations or libraries or building major road improvements, off site. the transportation impacts, mitigation. Usually what it comes down to is the county wants Sometimes he mig ht push that. WM: So that the developer would end up building the road rather than the county or the Department of Transportation? FS: Right. WM: Okay. FS: The pretense of the DRI is that your project is so big that it has this regional impact. Before you come in here and have this regional impact and expect the rest of the region living and working on your project and driving to and from. black smoke into th e sky with great environmental impact, you need to mitigate part of your project, rather than the county at large absorbing that. WM: Okay. So you are halfway through the DRI process?

PAGE 30

29 FS: (Nods head affirmative) WM: Your father talked about when you were proposing Starkey Ranch you had some of the neighboring landowners come in to discuss the project with them. Tell me about those meetings. ings. We had a public presentation after we did a design charrette for the Town Center neighborhood, which is from here to Gunn Highway, basically. We had a public presentation that we just opened up to the general public. And a fter we got our master plan done and were getting close to submitting the original DRI application, we had an open house and invited the general public. We never really had formalized meetings with the adjacent landowners; our main adjacent landowner is SW IFTMUD. They own the majority of our perimeter. WM: What kind of turnout did you have for the open houses? FS: Oh, about a hundred to [a] hundred twenty people for each of them. s looking for free food or what? FS: (laughs) Some were looking for free food and you know some were people that we open houses were held in Longleaf, so there were Longl eaf residents that came to see what was going on. A few people who live in surrounding areas [came]. The feedback that we got was constructive criticism. Ironic things like because two of the basic things of New Urbanism are having taller buildings, not skyscrapers but not having everything be one story Tape 2, side ends; side 2 begins. FS: A nd trying to downplay the predominance of the automobile. Not fill up every (laughs) WM: (laughs) comment that we got. WM: Why the negative reaction against multi story buildings?

PAGE 31

30 FS: I think that was just a general suburban bias. I think [that was] somebody who associated multi WM: Okay. But I had to ask. Anyhow, the Starkey Ranch project is still in its formative stages? FS: Um huh. WM: What kind of pressure do you have from real estate agents? You know, people looking to buy the land. calling us forever. Dad had sometime if people push entertain some larger developme nt companies that have come in with a pretty [good not signed on with anybody. ut myself. And there comes a point in interviews where you reach the point of diminishing returns, where you just get tired from talking and tired FS: I understand. e shared with me is going to be deposited in the Special Collections of the University of South Florida Library and be available for people doing research on land use policy and development practices. WM: In order for these researchers to have access to t his information there is a release form that I have to ask you to sign. FS: Um huh. WM: I always like to put that on the tape.

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31 Also, I to that? FS: Nope. WM: Okay great. Well let me stop this thing. end of interview


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