Saturday, October 11, 2008

Florida housing bubble hurt water access for boaters

From Power & Motoryacht magazine:
While it was booming, the real estate market in South Florida wreaked havoc on the already limited space for boat slips and dry docks. The area lost about 15 percent of its boat-storage capacity in the last six years because of waterfront development, according to the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF).

But now that the real-estate market bubble is bursting, it's unclear whether the boat-storage problem will get a much-needed shot in the arm.

"Fortunately, the real estate slowdown has relieved some of the pressure of nonmarine developments on the waterfront," says Frank Herhold, executive director of MIASF. "At the same time, the price of land has soared dramatically, and that could stymie new boating-related facilities from being developed."

The storage shortage also drove dock fees up—as much as ten percent a year in some places—and led to waiting lists 100 names long at public marinas and private storage facilities. …

"In five years I think you're going to see an extremely vibrant and strong marine industry in South Florida," Herhold says. "Right now, we are alleviating a lot of the boat-storage problems we face today."


  1. Awww, come on! Everyone knows that we don't need to build in the city. No one wants to be there anyway. When we need more space to conduct the business of the nation's capital, we'll just build in Spotsylvania County VA.

    Monument, Capitol could get company in DC skyline

    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) - No skyscrapers jut from this low-lying federal city, allowing iconic buildings like the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol to dominate the horizon.

    However, the historically sparse skyline might not stay that way.

    As vacant land disappears in Washington, concerns about high real estate prices are fueling debate on whether developers should be allowed to build taller, which is prevented under a century-old law.

    Land scarcity and concerns about the need to curb suburban sprawl have even spawned talk of eventually bringing office towers to a city long known for its picturesque views, sunlit streets and compact buildings. Within 15 years, according to one analysis, no more space will be available in a 3.5-mile stretch from Georgetown to Capitol Hill.

    Christopher Leinberger, a land use strategist and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, warns that unless more room is found, the artificial cap on space will further inflate already soaring downtown real estate prices, which rank second behind Manhattan.

    As a result, only the wealthiest businesses and residents will be able to stay in Washington, stunting the city's tax base.

    Contrary to popular lore, the city's low-lying skyline has nothing to do with preserving the prominence of the Washington Monument's 555-foot stone obelisk.

    In fact, Congress _ which has oversight over the capital _ passed the Height Act of 1910 in response to residents' outrage over the 14-story Cairo apartment building erected in 1894 near Dupont Circle, towering over nearby rowhouses. Besides concerns about aesthetics, there also was a desire to prevent buildings from becoming too tall for fire engine ladders.

    The law limits building heights to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet. There have been several exceptions to allow for construction of the National Cathedral and Georgetown University Hospital. Otherwise, the Height Act has capped most buildings at 130 feet, though heights of 160 feet are permitted on certain areas of Pennsylvania Avenue.

    For plenty of influential Washington planners, the idea of altering the city's skyline borders on blasphemy.

    "I think it's very important to recognize the real uniqueness of Washington's physical character, certainly compared to any other American city," said Thomas Luebke, the secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. He called the city's skyline "a national symbol."

    Critics also include Marcel Acosta, executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission. He argues that unlike parts of New York and Chicago, Washington's streets are much more welcoming to pedestrians, thanks to plentiful sunlight.

    "In a world of cookie-cutter cities, this is one of our great advantages," he said.

    Still, Gerry Widdicombe, director of economic development for the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, said the city's height restrictions will get increasing attention as space for new development continues to shrink.

    The nonprofit group projects that 57 million square feet of space remains for offices, shops and apartments in central Washington. Whether that space vanishes in 15 years, or perhaps 30, could depend on how badly the city is affected by an economic downturn, Widdicombe said.

    Washington wouldn't be the first traditionally low-lying city to see its skyline go vertical. Many European cities have created high-rise districts, such as London's Canary Wharf. And the Paris city council recently voted to consider erecting tall buildings on the edge of the French capital.

    In the U.S., Los Angeles limited most buildings to 150 feet until 1957 because of concerns about earthquakes, said Witold Rybczynski, an architecture critic and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. And Philadelphia had an informal rule until the 1980s that buildings remain lower than the 548-foot William Penn statue atop City Hall.

  2. "warns that unless more room is found, the artificial cap on space will further inflate already soaring downtown real estate prices"

    ...and why is this a problem?

  3. "...and why is this a problem?"

    Because everyone knows that America's downtowns are dead! Downtown DC is the province of tumbleweeds and crack dealers.

    Suburbia is where its at, man! The fact that real estate values downtown are high and likely to go higher is a fluke! SUBURBIA WILL RISE AGAIN!