Both Then and Now – Palm Coast and Flagler County Wrestle with Growth Issues

December, 1974 Florida Trend article echoes issues still with us today – growth management, environmental concerns, and the need for commercial and industrial development.

September 23, 2007 – Palm Coast, Florida – Last week, someone passed me an article entitled Growth Pains Arrive for Flagler County – Development brings change to this quiet, rural county. The article appeared in the December 1974 issue of Florida Trend magazine. Substitute the word "residential" for "rural," and you could write an article using the same title today. Following are some of today’s issues followed by their 1973 counterparts.


Now: Flagler County, currently the fifth fastest growing county in the country, was the fastest growing county just a few years ago. Palm Coast is the fastest growing city of its size.


Then: “The first homes in Palm Coast were built and occupied in 1972. Completed, occupied homes now number about 350, with 50 to 75 more expected by the end of the year. This would push the number to more than 400, a little shy of the company’s goal of 500 homes by the end of this year."


Now: During the 2001 to 2005 years, Flagler County real estate prices zoomed by as much as 30% per year in some areas.


Then: “Land values (in Flagler Beach) increased often as much as 300% between 1970 and 1973, with lots that had been selling for from $4,000 to $5,000 spurting to $18,000 to $20,000. Ocean front property rose from $150 a frontage foot in some cases to $450 or $500 a foot.”


Now: A Centex project involving the old Harborside Inn and Palm Harbor Golf Course has halted in mid development due to market conditions. The final outcome of this venture is still uncertain.


Then: “A pair of developers is hoping to begin work on a $250 million residential – recreational shopping area complex in Flagler Beach along the Intracoastal Waterway within two years.”


“…the 350-acre development, Flagship Harbor, would consist of single family homes, townhouses, garden and mid-rise apartments, a 20-acre shopping center, swimming pools, a marina, restaurant and motel.”


“Plans, which still have to run the gauntlet of environmental agency approvals, call for a total of 4,267 units and a 10,600 projected population over a five-to-ten year period. Over dredging of a two-mile stretch of marshland, widening of the waterway and construction of a series of bridges over some of the marshland is involved.”


“Construction plans for a separate $6.8 million high rise, planned unit development near the Flagler Beach State Park, scheduled to have started last September, have been delayed because of money market problems.”


Now: The Enterprise Flagler Airport Task Force was recently formed to include owners of private property surrounding the airport in an effort to coordinate efforts toward commercial and industrial development there. The County Council created an Economic Development Authority (EDA), also recently. The EDA, however, has only a mission. It has no authority and no funding.


Then: “Proposed industrial land uses are in the vicinity of the Bunnell Airport and along US1 north of Bunnell. Flagler County is already wooing industry with a 1,100-acre industrial park next to the airport.”


“…with vigorous private sector efforts underway to promote development and business, Flagler County is moving away from total dependence upon an agricultural economy toward a more diversified base…”


Thirty years later and the airport is still largely undeveloped, and there has been very little progress in achieving a balanced tax base. Flagler County MUST move away from a near total dependency on residential growth. If it does not, property taxes will explode at the same time government provided services shrink.

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