Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Clearwater: crushed by condominums

We're heading back from a semi-spontaneous family spring break trip to Bradenton Beach Florida (Tradewinds Resort - recommended). Great trip, though things will look different a year from now, and even more different five years from now. Only global warming and hurricane risk can keep the condos away.

Clearwater Beach is exhibit A. It's still a beautiful sight heading out from land, but the condo density is amazing. They're mostly dull rather than ugly, but there are a lot of them. I assume the economics of such high density, high cost accommodation are pretty overwhelming, in time they'll swallow the Keys -- unless the storm threats become overwhelming. Of course the ultra-rich will still be able to build estates and hang the cost -- but even in America this is a relatively small group.

I suspect most folks prefer the old Florida of single story wood frame buildings. We found a fair bit of that on Anna Maria island, but it felt like an anachronism.

Besides condos and estates, one other category of dwelling caught my eye. Southwest Florida has the greatest concentration of genteel trailer parks I've ever seen. I assume they're mostly occupied by non-wealthy elders. I wonder how they fit into the evolving land use pattern, and where the economics of the florida mobile home are going to go
... one out every five new single-family housing units purchased in the United States is a mobile home, sited everywhere from the conventional trailer park to custom-designed "estates" aimed at young couples and retirees...

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