Recent Updates:

Weekend Best Bets: Happy Halloween

Saxophonist Lew Tabackin visits the Arts Garage this weekend.

Saxophonist Lew Tabackin visits the Arts Garage this weekend.

Happy Halloween

Three cheers to the City of Boca Raton which has created an amazing website to help you plan your Halloween weekend. Visit  http://bocaboodays.com/ and we promise you will not be disappointed. It’s truly something to see. P.S. Click on the light bulb.

 

Lazy Bonez

 When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

Who: Lazy Bonez

Where: Outdoor Pavilion, Delray Center for the Arts

 Formed in September 2011, Lazy Bonez recreates the 80′s Rock concert experience with high energy performances featuring the songs of such legendary bands as Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC, and so many more! Rather than emulating one single band, Lazy Bonez choses to celebrate the entire genre of 80′s Rock and has been hard at work traveling and performing clubs, festivals, and corporate events to rave reviews.

P.S. Dave was in a hair band during that era, a little known fact.

 

Rain or shine; bring your blankets and chairs, and bring the family… but PLEASE, no pets or outside food or beverages. Food trucks and cash bar available.

 

 

Lew Tabackin

JAZZ | Sat, 11/1  8pm

 

Lew’s distinctive tenor sax style includes the use of wide intervals, abrupt changes of mood and tempo, and purposeful fervor, all in the service of showing the full range of possibilities of his instrument. His music “is a masterpiece of melodic invention, one motive neatly unfolding into the next, telling a story filled with wisdom” —Saxophone Journal.

We couldn’t have said it better.

Have a safe weekend

 

 

Water Cooler Wednesday: A Legacy of Leadership

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Tom Lynch’s assistant Paula Post asking if I would be interested in being part of a tribute video for Tom being produced on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber honored Tom last week with a much deserved “Lifetime Achievement Award” and the Red Pepper Group was tasked with recording a video that would try and capture Tom’s influence and contributions to Delray Beach.

I was honored and jumped at the chance to join Tom’s sons Brendan and Connor and Business Development Board CEO Kelly Smallridge on the video.

But then panic set in.

How can you sum up, in two minutes or less, Tom’s profound influence on the development and creation of modern Delray Beach? After all, if not for Tom, I’m not so we’d have a website devoted to Delray, because Atlantic Avenue and Delray Beach was a far different place when he became the founding chair of the CRA in 1985 and mayor of Delray in 1990.

Sure, there are many authors to the Delray success story, people we have mentioned on this blog who have done great things in areas ranging from the arts and business to government and philanthropy, but few who have left his lasting imprint.

Real Leadership Lasts

The real question then was why? Why was Tom Lynch–who served as mayor for three terms then went on to the School Board for 8 years before becoming mayor of the tiny Village of Golf –so important to modern Delray?

After all, he has been gone from office for 18 years, a lifetime in local politics and yet, smart politicians, entrepreneurs, economic development experts and others still seek him out for advice even if they have to search for him in Biltmore Forest N.C., where he spends a lot of time these days.

The answer, in my opinion, was because Tom stood for and implemented ideas and principles that set the stage for much of the success that Delray has achieved since he served on Mayor Doak Campbell’s Atlantic Avenue Task Force 30 years ago.

Sure he accomplished a lot of concrete things during his active years in Delray Beach. Among them:

•             Successful implementation of the pivotal Decade of Excellence Bond which beautified Atlantic Avenue among other important projects.

•             The decision to build a tennis stadium downtown to attract the Virginia Slims to Delray. While the Slims didn’t last, the Stadium did; eventually attracting an ATP event, major junior events, the Champions Tour, Fed Cup and Davis Cup. The decision to build downtown was an important branding decision for Delray giving the city international publicity and attracting people to Delray at a time when crowds were not the norm.

•             Successfully launching the CRA, which has become a major economic development tool for the city ushering in millions and millions in private sector investment.

•             Winning the first of Delray’s two All America City Awards in 1993, a major recognition of the city’s progress. A year later, Florida Trend Magazine named Delray the best run town in Florida.

And there were more accomplishments, but while important, over time people forget who did what and Tom was never the type to seek credit anyway.

 But what lasts are values and principles and that’s the “secret sauce” that separates a Tom Lynch from others who hold titles such as mayor. People come and go in these positions, but values and principles tend to last and if you stray as a community they can serve as guideposts to get back to where you need to be.

So what were those values and principles that Tom championed before, during and after he left office.

•             Delray should come first, before personal agendas and egos.

•             The job of an elected official is to do the right thing regardless of short term political considerations. Don’t kick the can down the road, think long term and have the courage to act.

•             Appointments to city advisory boards are important, take the time to put the right people in the right spots because they provide the commission with the advice they need to make decisions. Don’t reward friends or political cronies; look for people who have the skill sets to add value. P.S. if they perform they can become your future leaders.

•             City Commission is not an entry level position, it’s important for candidates to have experience in this community before you entrust them with the public’s purse and important decisions. Do they work well with others? Are they single issue candidates? Do they do their homework? Are they willing to make tough decisions or do they just want to cut ribbons and ride in parades? Tom taught us to ask those questions and more.

•             Government can run like a business by being responsive to customers, entrepreneurial, efficient and fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. Like businesses, cities should make investments that yield returns, such as in the arts, sports and culture.

•             Government should not impose answers but act as a facilitator to assist  businesses and or resolve disputes and issues between neighbors.

And there are more, many more values and principles that Tom’s leadership epitomized.

So that’s what I thought of when I walked into the Red Pepper Group’s studios and tried to give my two-minute testimonial.

Times Have Changed

When I moved here as a 22 year-old reporter in 1987, Delray was a far different place. There were few restaurants, virtually no nightlife, lots of vacancies on Atlantic Ave and a tremendous amount of crime and drug dealing. The politics were divisive and City Hall was suffering from instability and turnover. By the time Tom left the mayor’s office in 1996, Delray was well on the way but still had a long way to go. That’s the other lesson he and others imparted: cities are never done; they are always works in progress. But Tom’s under stated but strong leadership gave Delray its confidence back, we were a community that worked together, that acknowledged its problems and were willing to try innovative strategies to find solutions. We were no longer Dull Ray, the poor neighbor of Boca where nobody wanted to be, but a town on the rise that believed in itself.

That’s what great leadership does, it engages, unites and excites stakeholders and leave you with hope for a better tomorrow. And so it was. Great leaders touch people and leave a mark.  They make us think about what we can become and they lead the way despite the obstacles. Tom Lynch’s brand of leadership continues to pay dividends.

 

Chamber Gala Recognizes Business Excellence

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

Tom Lynch: A lifetime of achievement

The Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted a packed gala Saturday night at the Marriott and recognized several business leaders for their contributions to the local economy.

Former Delray Beach Mayor Tom Lynch received a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his 45 years of service to Delray and Palm Beach County.

Lynch moved to Florida in 1969 and has served as a leader in the insurance industry for 40 years. As President of Plastridge Insurance, a company originally established in 1919, Lynch has spearheaded the company’s growth and expanded its reach with offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart. As Mayor of Delray Beach in the early 1990′s Lynch played a key leadership role during a time of growth and positive change in Delray Beach. Lynch has held leadership roles in numerous non-profit organizations.

“Tom Lynch’s bio is staggering,” says Karen Granger, President and CEO of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve never known anyone who has served the community in such a variety of capacities and continues to stay right on the pulse of business, education and a wide variety of issues.”

Here’s a look at the complete list of winners:

2014 Business Person of the Year

Tim Young

Delray Motors

 

2014 Business of the Year

Delray Honda

 

2014 Non-Profit Organization of the Year

C.R.O.S. Ministries

2014 Delray Beach & Beyond Corporate Reach Award

21 Drops

 

2014 New Business of the Year

Woo Creative

 

2014 Retailer of the Year

PeterMark Salon

 

2014 Restaurant of the Year

Caffe Luna Rosa

 

2014 Ken Ellingsworth Community Service Award

Tiffany Peterson

 

Monday Morning Headlines: Population Surging

The Sunshine State's population is rising again fueled by good weather, jobs and great beaches.

The Sunshine State’s population is rising again fueled by good weather, jobs and great beaches.

Editor’s Note: We are heading to California and will be back next week with more posts. Here are some tidbits to start your week.

 

Florida booming again

New Census numbers are in and the Sunshine State is seeing a strong surge in population, but not to the levels of previous booms.

 Florida’s foreign-born population increased by 140,000 from 2010 to 2013.  Meanwhile, migration from within the United States added another 105,000 net new residents last year and 109,000 in 2012 — 84 percent more than in the previous two years.

That adds up to about 700 new residents a day, short of the 1,000 of recent boom years, but significant nonetheless.

Florida is nearing 20 million in population, up from 17.9 million a decade ago.

Florida VC Monies Barely Register

While demographers are saying at least some of the population boom is a result of young professionals flocking to the state and a burgeoning start up scene, Florida still barely registers when it comes to attracting venture capital.

According to the Miami Herald, Florida reaped just a tiny sliver – about a third of 1 percent – of the U.S. venture capital pie in the third quarter. In the state, $36.7 million was invested in six deals. That’s down considerably from $113.9 in 13 deals last quarter and the lowest total since the first quarter of 2013.

Political Ads

While we may not be swimming in VC cash, we are deluged with political ads, $83 million worth since last March, according to those who track that type of thing.

Florida’s gubernatorial race is one of the hottest in the country (Charlie Crist will be in Boca to soak up more cash this week) and has captured the attention of national news outlets for more than just the “fantrum”.

The New York Times Magazine weighed in with a lengthy piece saying the race between incumbent Rick Scott and former Gov. Crist is really a proxy battle between billionaire hedge funder Tom Steyer and the Koch Brothers.

The hot button issue: climate change, with Steyer’s Next Gen Climate group battling the Koch brothers’ led Americans for Prosperity.

It seems the political parties are playing less and less of a role as SuperPacs, which can raise unlimited cash and are often bankrolled by billionaires are not only spending tons of money but also opening field offices and organizing volunteers, traditional roles played by parties.

Weekend Best Bets: Jazz and Blues Edition

A singular talent.

A singular talent.

Jazz Pianist Ready To Rock

 

What: An Evening of Jazz with Fred Hersch

 When:  Fri, 10/17 8PM

  Fred Hersch comes to Delray’s Arts Garage with a big reputation. No less an authority than the New York Tiimes has  praised him as “singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz – a jazz for the 21st century.”

And it doesn’t end with the Times, Vanity Fair called Hersch “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade.”
He’ll be in town for one night, don’t miss him. Visit
www.artsgarage.org for tickets.

Downtown Delray Arts Festival

The 20th Annual Downtown Delray Beach Craft Festival will be held on Saturday, October 18 and Sunday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  During the Howard Alan event, the following road closures will be in effect:

NE/SE 4th Avenue will be closed from Atlantic Avenue to NE 2nd Street and from Atlantic Avenue to SE 2nd Street, beginning at 4am on Saturday, October 18 through 7pm on Sunday, October 19.

For event information, visit www.artfestival.com. 

 

Get Your Blues at Arts Garage

 

What:  An evening  of blues with Doug Deming & Dennis Gruenling  with The Jewel Tones

When: Sat, 10/18 8pm

 

“Like World Champions…Dennis Gruenling and Doug Deming are individually great talents who are even better when they come together as one of the most prolific duos on today’s contemporary American Blues scene” — says Music News.

 

Monday Happenings: Back From Vegas Version

The lean, but not so mean DBMC team.

The lean, but not so mean DBMC team.

Joe Biden in Boca

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Boca Raton today stumping for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist at Temple Beth Shalom in Century Village.

The visit and stump speech is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Jill Biden, the Vice President’s wife, is expected at FAU today.

Speaking of the governor’s race, we’ve all been bombarded with campaign ads slamming Crist and Gov. Rick Scott. Can anybody tell us what the candidate’s visions are for the Sunshine State?
Is there a single campaign idea from either side?

Maybe VP Biden will shed some light today.

Providencia Finalists; Vote DBMC

The Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative  (DBMC) has been named one of three finalists for the 2014 Providencia Award.

This is Palm Beach County’s most important symbol of recognition for the local tourism/hospitality industry that generates an annual economic impact of nearly $7 billion in the local economy, welcomes six million visitors a year, supports 60,000 industry jobs and helps to ensure Florida remain a tax-free state.

Discover The Palm Beaches bestows the annual Providencia Award to an individual, institution, corporation or organization that is making an extraordinary and positive impact on local tourism. This year marks the third time in the award’s 24-year history that the recipient will be selected by public vote on www.palmbeachpost.com/Providencia. People can make their selection online until October 26, and the winner will be announced in conjunction with the 2015 Discover The Palm Beaches Marketing & Sales Plan presentation on November 5 at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa.
“The 2014 Providencia Award finalists represent some of the incredible tourism assets that The Palm Beaches have to offer,” said Jorge Pesquera, President and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches. In addition to DBMC, the other two finalists are the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium and The Honda Classic.
“For the DBMC to be one of the finalists for this year’s Providencia Award is not only a great honor for the entire city of Delray Beach, it is recognition of the efforts we are making to strengthen our brand as a major tourist destination,” said Stephanie Immelman DBMC Executive Director. “Now we need everyone who lives in Delray Beach – or who comes here to have fun – to go online and vote for the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative.”

 

Over the last two decades, Delray Beach has been dramatically transformed from a quaint, quiet “Village by the Sea” to the “Most Fun Small Town in the USA,” a year-round tourist magnet with some of the most dynamic thoroughfare of hot-hot-hot restaurants, nightclubs and cultural activities in Palm Beach County. The DBMC has played a major role in the renaissance despite its small team of  Stephanie Immelman, Stephen Chrisanthus, Jarrod White and Tiffany Mazer.
A successful successful partnership between the City of Delray Beach, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, the primary mission of the DBMC is to attract people to the City, create a positive image and increase awareness of Delray Beach for a positive economic impact through Destination Marketing, marketing programs, special events and community collaboration.
During the last year alone, DBMC Special Events (100-Foot Christmas Tree / First Night, July 4th Celebration, ON THE AVE) have attracted hundreds of thousands of participants, residents and out-of-county visitors alike, generating a positive economic impact of $7,775,000 and millions of positive media impressions.
In addition, the DBMC has successfully launched five major Destination Marketing programs over the last year-and-a-half:
VisitDelrayBeach.org, a new tourism-focused and user-friendly website, the perfect tool for out-of-towners seeking a memorable vacation get-away.
+ Visit Delray Beach, a colorful new marketing brochure that highlights local hotels and attractions.
New Mobile Tourism Information App, which will launch next year as part of Rand McNally’s Best Town Travel Guide and for which Delray Beach was chosen to be the test site.
Hot Here: It’s Always Cool in Delray Beach Summer Marketing Campaign, which was designed to attract out-of-state visitors during the summer and shoulder months.
Beach Buddies, a fun and funny joint marketing campaign with Marina del Rey in California that will include cross promotions, a new marketing mascot (Swinton the Turtle) and an aggressive social media campaign.
“The Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative has been and will continue to be an integral force multiplier in the ongoing growth of Delray Beach as a major tourist attraction – as well as the perfect place to live, work and play,” said Immelman
Previous Providencia Award winners include the Delray Beach, International Tennis Championships, International Polo Club Palm Beach, The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, The Breakers, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Burt Reynolds, Norton Museum of Art, Boca Raton Resort & Club, SunFest, Jack Nicklaus, Marathon of the Palm Beaches, Delta Airlines, Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
About the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative:
The Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative (DBMC) is a partnership between the City of Delray Beach, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. The DBMC’s mission is to attract people to the City, create a positive image and increase awareness of Delray Beach for a positive economic impact through Destination Marketing, marketing programs, special events and community collaboration. For more information, please contact DBMC at 561.279.1380 or visit VisitDelrayBeach.org.

Book Early for Estate Planning Seminar

The nation's top wealth management pro's will be at FAU in November.

The nation’s top wealth management pro’s will be at FAU in November.

Editor’s Note: We are off to Vegas! The blog will resume next week. And yes, if you must know, it’s on business. Really..it is…trust us.

The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, the Florida Atlantic University Foundation and United Way of Palm Beach County have joined forces to introduce an exciting new program: the Palm Beach County Wealth & Estate Planning Seminar, to take place Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida. More than 200 wealth management professionals are expected to attend.

 
The seminar features Natalie Choate who will present: “Estate and Distribution Planning for Retirement Benefits, the 201 Best and Worst Planning Ideas and Case Studies.” Ms. Choate is of counsel in the trusts and estates department of Nutter in Boston and is a nationally renowned speaker and author of Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits and The QPRT Manual. Please go to video through this link — http://youtu.be/AJesn_Jq9w4
 
 
Kathi Barnhart, Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor with BB&T, the seminar’s lead sponsor said, “I was excited to join this inaugural committee and BB&T Wealth is proud to be the seminar’s first Diamond Sponsor. This is a real win-win. We will hear from an outstanding national speaker and advisors will have the opportunity to exchange ideas during the post-presentation reception.”
 
The seminar brings the latest and best strategies in estate planning to Palm Beach County attorneys, accountants, insurance and wealth advisors. The seminar also provides a forum for professionals to interact and share skills. “We sensed that a program like this was needed in our county,” offered Lanny Marks, this year’s seminar chair. “When we proposed the idea, our professional community responded very enthusiastically.”
 
The PBC Wealth & Estate Planning Seminar program begins at 4:00 p.m. in the FAU Office Depot Lecture Hall. Two continuing education credits will be offered. The program is followed by a cocktail reception in the Sean Stein Pavilion at the FAU College of Business. The event is expected to sell out and tickets must be purchased in advance.
 
 “Every estate planning professional can benefit from learning new and different ways to help their clients fulfill life and legacy plans,” said Richard Newman of Life Audit Professionals. “These
conversations are so important to us as professionals. I encourage advisors to join us, and to add Natalie Choate’s strategies to their toolboxes.”
 
Lead sponsors for the event are BB & T Wealth (Diamond), Life Audit Professionals and Regions Private Wealth Management (Ruby), Greenberg Traurig (Emerald), and the following Sapphire sponsors:  Bessemer Trust Company of Florida; BNY Mellon; Brinkley Morgan; Broad and Cassel; Chapin, Ballerano & Cheslak; Coral Gables Trust; Duane Morris LLP; Gutter Chaves Josepher Rubin Forman Fleisher Miller, P.A.; Katz Baskies; Kaufman Rossin & Co.; Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra; Proskauer; Seacoast Wealth Management; Shutts & Bowen; U.S. Trust; Valuation Services, Inc.; Wells Fargo Private Bank and Willamette Management Associates. 
 
“Regions Private Wealth Management is proud to help make this inaugural event happen,” offered Terisa Heine, Vice President and Trust Advisor. “We look forward to an informative and fun seminar.”
 
For more information, visit pbcseminar.info or call 561-297-6144.
 
About the United Way of Palm Beach County:   For more than 85 years, United Way of Palm Beach County has been dedicated to improving lives and advancing the common good in our community.  Funded by the generosity of donors and volunteers, United Way strategically invests in crucial efforts and programs that support the building blocks for a good life – education, financial stability and health.  We work on a local level to help provide lasting solutions to the root causes of our county’s social issues, from promoting access to education and healthcare to ending hunger and homelessness. To learn more on how to GIVE, ADVOCATE or VOLUNTEER for the local United Way, call 561.375.6600 or visit www.UnitedWayPBC.org. Like the United Way on Facebook and follow on Twitter.
 
About the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties is one of Florida’s largest community foundations. The nonprofit organization has invested more than $110 million in grants and scholarships over its 40-year history. At its core, the Community Foundation is an organization created with gifts from generous people committed to local causes. For donors, the Foundation serves as a philanthropic advisor. For the community, the Foundation serves as a grant maker and a civic leader. Through the support of its donors and fundholders, the Foundation has been able to address some of the community’s most pressing needs, including hunger, housing and education. For more information, visit www.yourcommunityfoundation.org.
 
 
 
 
About the Florida Atlantic University Foundation 
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.
 

Finding the Soul of the City

Beautiful Winter Park.

Beautiful Winter Park.

Winter Park is a gorgeous small town.

Nestled next to bustling Orlando, Winter Park is an upscale city of 29,000 residents with a beautiful downtown, historic neighborhoods and a new apartment complex and Trader Joe’s that has inflamed a passionate debate about the city’s identity, growth, character and future.

The debate has been raging for a while but has ebbed and flowed depending on the political winds. But the construction of rental apartments and the opening of the wildly popular Trader Joe’s have created a debate in the community over character and the dreaded “D” word, density.

Sound familiar?

On one side of the debate are those who are OK with change, support transit –there’s a popular SunRail stop downtown– and don’t mind seeing development along the “edges” that might offer some residential  opportunities for people who might not otherwise be able to afford to live in the city.

On the other side are those who are concerned with density and multi-family housing, some of whom express concern over the train (which means more people visiting) and traffic, much of it generated because lots of people  have to drive through Winter Park to access a booming downtown Orlando–In other words not by development in Winter Park per se.

It’s a familiar debate and I got a dose of it last week when I went to Winter Park on behalf of ULI (Urban Land Institute) to work with the community, mayor, city commission and staff on a visioning effort.

Both sides of the debate have merit, but you wonder if there’s a way to bridge the divide or we are doomed to be caught in an endless loop of fear, division, accusations etc. etc.?

We’ve heard the tired arguments emanating from both sides of the growth divide. For instance:

“Density is bad. “

“All developers are greedy.”

“Elected officials are in the pockets of the big money developers. “

On the other side of the divide are those who argue that all opposition to development comes from NIMBY’s or CAVE’s (Citizens Against Virtually Everything).

It’s as old and as tiresome as the partisan gridlock that has ruined Congress.

We need to do better than this. And I believe we can, but it’s going to take a lot of work and education.

But the effort seems worth it, because the issue isn’t going away.

First, change is inevitable unless of course you live in colonial Williamsburg. Land owners also have property rights and if cities infringe on those rights they run the risk of costly lawsuits.

Ideally, the goal should be smart growth, great design, respect for historic neighborhoods, acknowledgement of–and where possible– mitigation of the impact of development. And yes development has an impact. But to be fair, that impact can also be positive as well as negative.

The devil of course is in the details, but responsible development is not all about numbers: i.e. stories, height or the number of dwelling units per acre.

There’s an art to city building and efforts to drain subjectivity from the process are bound to be frustrating and self- defeating.

In Delray and Boca, we can point to numerous high density projects that work, because the architecture is beautiful and the developers took time to think about traffic flow, open space and how the development relates to adjoining neighborhoods.

I can also point to ugly projects that are both low and high density.

Last week, I received a notice from the City of Delray Beach regarding an update to the city’s Land Development Regulations. The purpose and I’m quoting the city here is to provide greater predictability in the regulations and the process and to incorporate more “form based” code elements emphasizing the importance of the public realm.

Sigh…

Form based codes can be good things and they can be awful too. In fact, our code is pretty good and already incorporates a lot of form based elements. But most importantly, it has worked enabling Delray to become a pretty good place. But there’s a sense– in some quarters anyway– that the answer to all bad development or perceived bad development can be solved by the code. It can’t.

If you want better design and development, you have to roll up your sleeves and work hard to get it.

That means working early in the process with developers and architects, not forcing them to guess about design and other concerns and then sandbagging them at a public meeting.

For developers it means engaging the public and really listening to concerns, not just ramming through projects because you think you have the upper hand politically. And for residents it means coming to the table with a respect for property rights, a knowledge of local zoning (easily attainable these days) and some ideas other than “go away.”

For all, it means working together and finding compromise, which usually means that everybody has to give up something. If you live adjacent to a downtown you have a right to be concerned with development and a vested interest to insist on great design. But you don’t have a right to think you live in a gated community—change is going to occur and the downtown belongs to everyone not just those who are fortunate enough to live there or nearby.

More than a tweak to our codes, what’s needed is a more intelligent discussion about growth, change, design density, traffic, walkability, pedestrian safety, vibrancy, open space etc.

You can’t legislate the art and subjectivity out of city building. You can’t devise a code that will be perfect and you’re not going to get every project right.

I served during a big real estate boom. I met greedy developers and really caring developers. I met genuinely concerned citizens and a few others that could not be reasoned with nor bothered by the facts. I served alongside some pretty good elected officials and we got some things right and a few things wrong. Contrary to rumors, we never granted a waiver or a variance for height and density, but we also didn’t fixate on numbers. We tried to support good projects and we tried to stop bad ones. Our code and master plan was flexible enough to give us those options.

But we also saw the process as an ongoing one of constant education, engagement, outreach and learning. We tried to protect the historic districts and put in new guidelines. We attempted design guidelines and invited local architects to share what would work and what wouldn’t. Our first attempt looked good on paper, but didn’t work in the real world and so we went back to the drawing board.

Plans are meant to live and breathe, not be so prescriptive that they squelch creativity. I hope that’s not where we are going.

Yes, the process should be predictable. It should not take months and months to approve or reject something. But cities need to be both protected and nurtured. They need to be preserved and they need to change. That’s the beauty of this work and that’s where the opportunities are, as well as the risks and pitfalls. You can’t legislate perfection nor can you devise a code—form based or antiquated as I’ve heard our code described—and expect to drain all subjectivity out of the process. Cities are about art and science. Not just numbers. There is no density number that can guarantee good design, no magic phrase or land development regulation that will ensure quality.

In Winter Park, the community and the leadership wants a vision that is values based rather than prescriptive. Values are a great place to start, because as one commissioner stated so beautifully Winter Park is not just about numbers it’s about how we relate and care for each other and our town. At the core of the issue—in Winter Park and elsewhere– is people long for a better way to talk about growth, change and development. Communities don’t want to be estranged, they long to connect and engage.

There’s no code yet devised that takes the place of working together and having honest and safe discussions over the future development of your home town. So we can meet at quasi-judicial hearings and debate whether a project should be 16 units or 19 units an acre even though there’s not a human being on the planet who can tell the difference or we can find a better way.

The passionate debate about the city’s identity, growth, character and future should never stop and there isn’t  acode on Earth that will answer every question. All a code can do is help you craft a community that is livable, attractive and sustainable. It’s a tool. Period.

The real work is to build a community where people discuss the future intelligently and get beyond the all change is either great or terrible mindset.

That’s the challenge and that is the opportunity.

 

FAU’s Promise

Football is only one part of the FAU vision for greatness

Football is only one part of the FAU vision for greatness

We went to the FAU football game Saturday and it was great.
A 41-37 thriller won by the Owls.
I’m embarrassed to say it was the first time I attended a game. I love football and FAU and I’ve had my share of opportunities but we just never seemed to go.
But when Beth Johnston, a dear friend who works for FAU, arranged for a Delray day and a spot in the President’s suite alongside friends we just had to go.  I’m glad we did.
The new stadium is beautiful.

The sight lines are great and the atmosphere is terrific. It’s college football and you get swept up in the excitement.
The crowd was fair, not empty but not filled either, but those who attended seemed to be having a wonderful time. Still, the program has some work to do in order to fill 30,000 seats. It’s important that they get there and it will be a landmark day for our community when it happens. And I think it will.
In addition to football, the afternoon was a primer on FAU. Beth is a great host and a passionate professional she wasn’t going to let this opportunity to connect people to FAU pass.

We started the afternoon with some FAU trivia that focused on the university’s academic accomplishments; which are surprising and considerable.
Over the course of the game we had a chance to mingle with President Kelly and his wife, FAU Board Chair Anthony Barbar and the newly appointed director of public leadership among others from the school and foundation.  It was an enlightening experience and President Kelly and his team exude vision, confidence and ambition. They yearn to be a top 25 university, a place of national significance and they seem to have a plan and a laser like focus to achieve that lofty goal.
We should not only be rooting for that to happen we ought to be involved in making it so. Because if FAU thrives and excels it’s good for all of us, especially it’s host city Boca and it’s neighbor Delray.
It’s also good for our kids and community. Businesses will have an educated workforce, entrepreneurs may decide to stay and others will locate here because of FAU’s research, resources and energy.
A great university is a valuable calling card and amenity for a region.
In my few minutes with President Kelly we discussed his tenure at Clemson and it’s impact on Greenville and the region which was significant. He’s enamored with Delray and is clearly reaching out for closer ties. So is Jorge Calzadilla, the recently hired VP of Public Service who did magnificent things for children in Clemson’s service area. Mr. Calzadilla also mentioned a desire to focus FAU’s resources on community issues especially those relating to children and families. This is an opportunity that city officials in Delray would be wise to embrace.
Chairman Barbar also sees the new administration as an amazing opportunity to fulfill FAU’s potential to impact the region. He and other business leaders recently travelled to Raleigh NC where they saw the power of three great universities to drive innovation and economic development in the Research Triangle area.

The folks in Raleigh have a significant head start but there is no barrier to this region becoming world class as well –provided we knock down some parochial walls that exist between counties, cities, other institutions and business organizations.
The moment is here because in our backyard we also have a terrific university in Lynn with an international student body, a visionary president and faculty and a dynamic business school and curriculum. We just have to work together, root for one another, make some strategic investments, get involved and yes attend a few games.
The future will thank us if we do.