Author Topic: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams  (Read 9893 times)

Steve_Lovett

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2013, 01:15:17 PM »
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The planning approach was a beautiful highly-prescribed tour d'force of New Urbanism - totally out of place with respect to the site's history, existing character, culture, context, and natural environment. And totally inflexible to adapt to potential changes to the economy or market.

When the economy collapsed in 2007, '08, '09, etc. the legacy of the project was hundreds of acres of magnificent natural environment that had been blitzed-and-cleared - and a development plan that seemed out of place and that was no longer relevant to the market.

I do agree with you Steve.  I guess that's my real issue with this sort of development that is becoming more prevalent throughout the state.  Developers are offering these developments that are billed as "work, live, play" and "respecting the natural environment" and all of those buzz words people like to hear.  The problem is that these developments are being built in the middle of nowhere and many of them are being built on some very sensitive environmental lands.  Now, there are many reasons for this (most of them lie at the feet of our elected officials).  We basically incentivize developers to do these things.  We make it cheaper for them to build on these lands than redevelopment within our City-which has areas that desperately need it.  The plans are basically rubber stamped by development review boards, SJRWMD et. al.  All in the name of jobs mind you.  We wouldn't dare stop anything that might hinder growth aka. jobs.  Of course, these jobs could also be created in other ways that have a less devastating effect on our environment and infrastructure.  As has been repeated ad nauseum on this website, all this new development requires roads and other infrastructure that were not needed before.  And while these developers may pick up some of the tab, you can bet it is not the true cost.  You and I and everyone else will pick up the rest.  Meanwhile, other areas of our city rot away and our schools become eroded.  The unfortunate thing is, I don't see any of this changing.  These developers and land owners have enough money and power to buy off and/or influence any decision maker they want.  The rest of us be damned.  Just look at the Outer Beltway and the alignment and look at the handful of landowners that own land where the alignment is.  They're set to make a killing and you can bet they had a hand in railroading this unneeded boondoggle through.  Of course, if you ask the Clay County Board of Commissioners they'll repeat the JOBS! mantra over and over but we all know the real reason.  $$

Of course. A lot of "new Florida's" economy pretty much depends on this type of expansion & they simply don't know anything else. Even though there's a mile long foreclosure glut that'll take a decade to get through, urban core areas need redeveloped, we need a transit system, & the economy is limping along, they'll "put people back to work" with this type of same old bullshit.

Even in the densest American cities only a relatively small portion live in the urban core. For instance, Seattle has 3-million in its MSA, but has 80k residents downtown. The difference is that policy and investment in Florida hasn't supported infill redevelopment or investment in infrastructure (transit) to connect cities, urban neighborhoods, and suburbs. You're right about that. The outer beltway is an example of the continuation of a staggering misplaced investment in infrastructure that is unsustainable.

As to RiverTown - the prior plan left RiverTown with hundreds of acres of clearcut land - requiring a new plan and approach for the project. That was not an easy hand to be dealt, and unless you've have a sense of what was started with and have seen in person the commitment to open space, trails, quality design, landscape, and the preservation/celebration of the river and natural landscapes it's a bit unfair to call RiverTown the "same old b.s.". It's not.

cline

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2013, 01:49:27 PM »
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That was not an easy hand to be dealt, and unless you've have a sense of what was started with and have seen in person the commitment to open space, trails, quality design, landscape, and the preservation/celebration of the river and natural landscapes it's a bit unfair to call RiverTown the "same old b.s.". It's not.

In comparison to the other DRIs being build out in NW SJC (clear-cut tract housing), you're right, it is better than that.  But I'm not going to go as far as to shower it with compliments about how unique its design is.  It is still a greenfield development serving as another bedroom community to Jax.  Besides with the initial price point they were asking for, they can afford a little extra when it comes to "open space, trails...landscape" etc.  It is St. Joe after all.  They have money (well, they used to at least).
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 02:26:25 PM by cline »

cline

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2013, 02:25:53 PM »
DRI=Developments of Regional Impact (Rivertown, Nocatee, Aberdeen, Durbin Crossing, Silverleaf are some of the DRIs in that area).  Most were approved back in the hey day of development.

Yes, NW SJC= Northwest St. Johns County

It's easy to get carried away with the acronyms sometimes.

fieldafm

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2013, 02:28:59 PM »
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That was not an easy hand to be dealt, and unless you've have a sense of what was started with and have seen in person the commitment to open space, trails, quality design, landscape, and the preservation/celebration of the river and natural landscapes it's a bit unfair to call RiverTown the "same old b.s.". It's not.

In comparison to the other DRIs being build out in NW SJC (clear-cut tract housing), you're right, it is better than that.  But I'm going to go as far as to shower it with compliments about how unique its design is.  It is still a greenfield development serving as another bedroom community to Jax.  Besides with the initial price point they were asking for, they can afford a little extra when it comes to "open space, trails...landscape" etc.  It is St. Joe after all.  They have money (well, they used to at least).

What is a DRI?

I assume NW SJC = North West St. Johns County?

DRI= Developments of Regional Impact

Basically large master planned mixed use communities (like Nocatee, Rivertown, etc), airports, large industrial projects, etc that have a large impact on the local jurisdiction beyond just what goes on within the development's defined borders. 

JFman00

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2013, 02:34:04 PM »
http://rivertownflorida.com/HOA.asp
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Neighborhood Conveniences

The Northeast Florida Regional Airport is only 15 miles from RiverTown. The Jacksonville International Airport is located about 32 miles from the community.

RiverTown offers convenient access to three of the area's most reputable medical facilities. The community is located about 17 miles from the Baptist Medical Center and roughly 25 miles from St. Lukes Hospital. The highly-reputable Mayo Clinic is approximately 31 miles away.

Nothing says pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhood like advertising conveniences 15-32 miles away. Nearest grocery 8 or 12 miles away. I can... acknowledge.... the design decision to build "modern" versions of Avondale/Riverside houses (Craftsman, but with garages!), but I struggle to see the difference between this and say... JCP. No mixed-use, no schools or workplaces nearby.

The *right* way to do greenfield development: http://www.daybreakutah.com/ , http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/10/24/how-salt-lake-city-became-a-leader-in-transit-oriented-development/

Kudos to whoever posted this in the transit thread. The most stunning statistic to me is that 88% of children walk or bike to school.  Considering that in 2009 only 31% of K-8 children lived within a mile of school and of those only 35% walked or bike there, this community is doing something right.




fieldafm

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2013, 02:45:29 PM »
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Nothing says pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhood like advertising conveniences 15-32 miles away. Nearest grocery 8 or 12 miles away. I can... acknowledge.... the design decision to build "modern" versions of Avondale/Riverside houses (Craftsman, but with garages!), but I struggle to see the difference between this and say... JCP. No mixed-use, no schools or workplaces nearby.

Bartram Trail High School is located basically within Rivertown and the master plan for the community does call for a mixed use commercial component.  Virtually all of Joe's master communities have a town center-type commercial component.  The difference b/w this and Nocatee is that Nocatee guaranteed Regency certain financial considerations which is why the Publix got built a few years ago.  That and Nocatee had a different (read speedier) model at the time they broke ground. 

I'll have to dig through my hard drive and find some pictures of Watercolor (which is real nice) and Southwood and maybe post a pictorial.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 02:49:25 PM by fieldafm »

JFman00

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2013, 02:57:48 PM »
Is the masterplan available publicly? I wasn't seeing it on the website.

http://www.tunspan.com/cutsheets/urban_design_town_planning/RiverTown.pdf Looks just like every other cookie cutter masterplan community out there.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 03:08:05 PM by JFman00 »

fsquid

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2013, 03:02:58 PM »
WAtercolor near Seaside?

fieldafm

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2013, 03:16:30 PM »
I'd have to do some digging to find it, everything I'm typing is just going off memory as I'm at my home office today.

I think the DRI itself is alloted space for the buildout of I believe 5 schools at capacity.

Lovett probably has all the jpgs at his fingertips.

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WAtercolor near Seaside?

Yes. 

 

CityLife

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #39 on: January 08, 2013, 03:26:34 PM »
I'm skimming over a feasibility study that has some interesting data related to the discussion. SJC had 613 new home closing from January 2012-June 2012 which is up 43% over the same period in 2011. Clay was up 20% over that period, Duval down 14% and Nassau down 9%. Nocatee had 354 home closings between June 2011-June 2012. Durbin had 180 closings in the last 12 months of the study (not sure what dates) and Aberdeen had 75. No mention of RiverTown though.

Would be interested to see what the final numbers are for the calender year of 2012 in the metro area and in some of the developments discussed in the thread.

Steve_Lovett

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2013, 03:44:49 PM »
Is the masterplan available publicly? I wasn't seeing it on the website.

http://www.tunspan.com/cutsheets/urban_design_town_planning/RiverTown.pdf Looks just like every other cookie cutter masterplan community out there.

This is the old faux-historic new-urban plan. It couldn't have been more out of context and resulted in massively insensitive clearing of natural vegetation during the early infrastructure development phases. I would think the initial phases of the new plan is available on RiverTown's website, but I'm not sure about that.

Steve_Lovett

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2013, 03:50:18 PM »
^this.

Congratulations on the Cultural Council Board Appointment, btw, Steve.

Thanks, Stephen.

There's a remarkably strong undercurrent of creatives and the arts in the community and it's crucial that our policies allow it to rise to the surface such that it's recognized and cultivated as an integral part of the DNA of Jacksonville's entire community. I'm looking forward to my service on the Cultural Council Board.

Steve_Lovett

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #42 on: January 08, 2013, 04:14:58 PM »
I'd have to do some digging to find it, everything I'm typing is just going off memory as I'm at my home office today.

I think the DRI itself is alloted space for the buildout of I believe 5 schools at capacity.

Lovett probably has all the jpgs at his fingertips.

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WAtercolor near Seaside?

Yes. 

 

Unfortunately not at my fingertips, I'm focused on some other things today.

The DRI is a matter of public record and can speak to the particulars better than any of us can from memory. There is a component of the plan that contemplates St Johns County schools and there are school sites quantified and/or identified, but I can't remember the exact locations or number.

In all this discussion I hope we remember what RiverTown was (a mass cleared vacant/stalled development) and look at what it's become. It's a reminder that a project's success isn't just measured in number of sales (such as Durbin/Nocatee), although RiverTown is attracting it's share and growing. It's also about what other values are created or enhanced. This type of community isn't for everyone - but based on where it was three years ago it is a great story.

Suburban development has inherent flaws, but the residents of NW St Johns County have tens-of-millions of dollars in new infrastructure improvements, a beautiful new public park with river access, lots of new trails and open space, and improvements to State Road 13 that will make it more beautiful and much safer for both drivers and pedestrians. Those are all wins that this project created or supported.


Ocklawaha

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #43 on: January 08, 2013, 05:23:52 PM »



Weedmans, Orangedale's (Rivertown's) best kept secret.

Actually Rivertown is exactly 1.6 miles from Weedmans Supermarket in Orangedale, granted its not Publix, but it is every bit of a small full line grocery. BTW, Weedmans has an excellent meat market, and many of their prepared foods are shipped out to area C-Stores. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weedmans-Grocery/119111008140806 Orangedale also has a Sawmill, C-Store w/gas, public pier, Tackle Shop, Pub, and Antique Store. So it's not nearly as remote as one might think, Also Green Cove Springs is within 8 miles of either WGV or Rivertown. 

As for the plan:






CityLife

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Re: RiverTown, Busting at the Seams
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2013, 05:28:38 PM »
I'd have to do some digging to find it, everything I'm typing is just going off memory as I'm at my home office today.

I think the DRI itself is alloted space for the buildout of I believe 5 schools at capacity.

Lovett probably has all the jpgs at his fingertips.

Quote
WAtercolor near Seaside?

Yes. 

 

In all this discussion I hope we remember what RiverTown was (a mass cleared vacant/stalled development) and look at what it's become. It's a reminder that a project's success isn't just measured in number of sales (such as Durbin/Nocatee), although RiverTown is attracting it's share and growing. It's also about what other values are created or enhanced. This type of community isn't for everyone - but based on where it was three years ago it is a great story.

Suburban development has inherent flaws, but the residents of NW St Johns County have tens-of-millions of dollars in new infrastructure improvements, a beautiful new public park with river access, lots of new trails and open space, and improvements to State Road 13 that will make it more beautiful and much safer for both drivers and pedestrians. Those are all wins that this project created or supported.

What are the specific positives to the plans that have been added since the project was originally planned? I do know that one of the developments (RiverTown Lakes) has removed rear alleys, on street parking, and a connection to another residential area from the original plans in order to add larger, and more traditionally suburban lots. Of course that is likely due to market conditions, but some may say that is a negative change.

Nocatee was originally intended and approved to be much more of a new urbanist style community, particularly where the Publix (Town Center) is now with gridded street, alleyways, and connectivity between neighborhoods. It also has significant preserve space, trails, recreation, and open space. However, due to market conditions the developers significantly modified the plans and it has become a hodge podge of suburban subdivisions.  Will RiverTown avoid that route and stay truer to some of the original TND concepts?

For the record, while it may have seemed I was being critical of RiverTown earlier. I was merely pointing out that the article was a little fluffy. RiverTown has a lot of long term potential, it just seems to be behind Nocatee and some other SJC developments in demand right now.