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Discussion, Austin, Lake mary..etc


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Since we are slow now...no new exciting projects in downtown, I will just throw out a few questions for discussions.....


1. When I start posting on this forum, Austin has the skyline the size of Orlando, but they have a lot of developments going on there and now their skyline is huge and gorgoues. Why cant Orlando be like that?


2. When Orlando annoucned medical city of Lake Nona, all these companies and education institutes rushed here to start shops. But when we announced Creative Village, why no companies in a hurry to come build anything?


3. Why all the jobs go to Lake Mary?

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This is a great topic - thanks for bringing it up, sunshine. While a lot of it has to do with historical trends and such, that could result in a rather lengthy response. So, I'll do the Reader's Digest version and fill in with some more stuff as we go along, if others find themselves as intrigued by the topic as I am.


(1) I've never lived in Austin, so I'll defer to those who do on most of the details. I can guess on a couple of reasons:


(a) Austin is the state capital. It's a built in base of above-average income folks and a very stable population to boot. State   employees in the capital also tend to have above-average educational levels, promoting more interest in cultural activities and the like, which have also been shown to attract more of the decision-makers who relocate businesses than professional sports franchises.


(b) Austin is the home of the University of Texas (the campus is also relatively close to downtown compared to UCF). The last time I checked, UT had the second-largest university endowment in the nation after Harvard. That gives a big boost to research, infrastructure for the university and a lot of alumni who tend to become very loyal to the city after they graduate.


© Texas, thanks in part to oil and, ironically, due to the fact it had tighter restrictions regarding residential lending after being devastated by the S&L crisis in the '80's, remained in much better shape during the Great Recession than Florida generally and Orlando specifically.


(d) Austin has two Fortune 500 companies headquartered there: Dell and Whole Foods. Corporate HQ's tend to remain much more invested in the development of their cities. Orlando currently only has Darden, which chose to build its new headquarters in the deep 'burbs. Our other entry, Hughes Supply, DID build a corporate headquarters in Parramore (as a wholesale firm, it did not have the bang of a retail-type one), but, of course, it was part of a disastrous sale to Home Depot that was later undone. The headquarters, however, remained in Atlanta. SunTrust used to have more of a presence here, but consolidation in the banking industry has moved most of the decision-makers for the company to Atlanta.


More on questions 2 and 3 in additional posts when I have a moment.

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(2) On to Lake Nona. If I were someone from out of town, I suspect I'd be more interested in Lake Nona than the Creative Village also. (Let me first say I recall reading articles in OBJ that Lake Nona 's retail projects have also falen behind, but I haven't had any reason thus far to go down there. Does anyone know what the scoop is?)


I am aware that, just as cities once located near rivers and later railroads and still later important highways, it is now being suggested that we'll see more cities in the future adjacent to airports: http://www.aerotropolis.com


That was the first thing that came to mind. Also, from the very beginning of attracting Sanford-Burnham to the area after we lost Scripps to Palm Beach County, that seemed to be the area the firm was interested in, and I don't think anyone was about to tell them "no" on anything, certainly not Jeb! Bush.  Along those lines, and this also ties into (3) "Why Lake Mary?" , in many cases there is free or close to free land involved to attract firms to BFE so as to jumpstart development. As I recall, Tavistock did a number of sweetheart deals to get Lake Nona going. Along those lines, AAA is in Heathrow chiefly because Jeno Paulucci gave them the land for a song. 


As to the Creative Village specifically, to this day one would be hard pressed to know what it's going to be, who the neighbors will be, and traditionally downtown real estate isn't as easily given away as land in a largely empty suburb. The Metro Orlando, EDC, btw, is supposed to be neutral as to location as long as it's in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake or the City of Orlando.


Also, the types of firms that are willing to put up with downtown locations tend to be creative-type firms, which is not what we tend to attract. I'll talk about that in another post (and how it is that in a region built on fantasy, creative firms aren't interested in being here.) Suffice it to say, as has been debated a lot recently in urban econ circles about the fact that Silicon Valley, arguably the USA's most creative and dynamic region, is as suburban as can be, and the employees don't seem to mind. That's not just a hangover from decades past, btw - Apple is building its new campus in the Valley, as is Samsung.


Also, as much as I love downtown and cannot imagine living anywhere else, there are significant deficits, both historical and in terms of City Hall's plans (as limited as they are) for the district. More about that later.

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I agree with everything Spencer said. I would add that Lake Mary and Seminole County in general has a stellar reputation and CEO's look favorably upon it. They move there because they want to live there. If it is a back office operation like Verizon, costs are a major factor. 


Creative Village doesn't really compare to Medical City. For one thing, what is a creative company? Also, it is a risky site. It may be downtown but not really. Who knows what the neighborhood will look like in the future. 

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