The Versatility of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

May 14, 2021

On Saturdays in the fall, tens of thousands of screaming fans fill the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. But what about the other three hundred and fifty some odd days?

Stadiums, the modern expression of antiquity’s amphitheater, rank among the most inefficient structures of all time. Depending on how the governing organization operates them, stadiums may only host eight to ten events annually and sit vacant for the rest of the year. The versatility of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, however, enables its use year-round.

Located in the middle of an historic college campus, it stands tall as a landmark for the city. The stadium seats 88,548, making it the largest in Florida. The intentional omission of parking immediately adjacent to the stadium (with the exception of one lot) is a critical design element, blending the stadium into the urban fabric of campus and the city of Gainesville. Steve Spurrier Field sits in a bowl below ground level, raising temperatures to swamp-like conditions (hence the moniker, “The Swamp”). This feature lowers the stadium’s outward profile to West University Avenue adjacent to the commercial activity of Midtown. For game days, roads are largely closed off in order for fans to walk safely to the game.

The key for the University to activate the stadium when the football team isn’t playing is to simply open it up to the public, offering many different uses. These include office space, a site for campus tours to conclude in impressive fashion, study space enabled by offering wi-fi, and a club area which can be rented out. Concerts and other events are held intermittently. The University of Florida has also recently begun testing students and faculty for COVID 19 and administering vaccines to combat the virus out of the facility. But the most common use of the stadium throughout the year is for exercise. The infamous “stadiums,” as students call them, involve running up and down the stairs. It seems easy enough until you actually try it for yourself.

Ben Hill Griffin stadium is a case study for making the most of an enormous space in an urban context. Could a stadium in your area be made more available to the public? Could Ben Hill Griffin stadium add a greater variety of uses beyond what it currently offers?  Enjoy the accompanying video.

Scott Gann of ‘The Bold Cities Project’ is a fifth year student at the University of Florida majoring in civil engineering and minoring in urban and regional planning.  

Sources:

https://www.alligator.org/article/2019/04/ben-hill-griffin-stadium-doesn-t-have-to-be-just-for-football?ct=content_open&cv=cbox_latest

https://floridagators.com/sports/2020/4/4/ben-hill-griffin-stadium.aspx

https://floridagators.com/sports/2015/12/10/_facilities_rent_.aspx

https://floridagators.com/news/2020/11/12/general-topgolf-live-coming-to-ben-hill-griffin-stadium.aspx

 

Other Resources:

https://www.brookings.edu/articles/sports-jobs-taxes-are-new-stadiums-worth-the-cost/

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/11/sports-stadiums-can-be-bad-cities/576334/

https://econreview.berkeley.edu/the-economics-of-sports-stadiums-does-public-financing-of-sports-stadiums-create-local-economic-growth-or-just-help-billionaires-improve-their-profit-margin/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e22yH5hUQ_A

 

Video Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGTYsEfxfkk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLV5RtAwJv4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoSO-3K5tE4&t=56s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za_eD7yNnFQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1iG-t9rsss&t=1s





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City of Groveland Adopts Form-Based Code, Becomes the New Frontier for New Urbanism in Central Florida

April 1, 2021

With the adoption of a new Form-Based Code, the City of Groveland pivots all future development in the direction of smart and sustainable growth.


The City of Groveland adopted a new Form-Based Community Development Code on October 5, 2020, solidifying a vision of smart and sustainable growth and providing a new frontier for New Urbanism in central Florida.

The newly adopted Future Land Use Element and Community Development Code is the City's first steps toward creating policies and plans that incentivize quality, traditional town development while highlighting Groveland’s existing natural and agrarian charm.
 
The City’s Community Development Director Tim Maslow adds, “Our goal is for Groveland to become an oasis for the best planners, developers, and builders in the country. Instead of just talking about new concepts and ideas at conferences such as ‘Missing Middle Housing’, ‘New Urbanism’ or ‘Agrarian Urbanism’ – people will actually be able to experience them in Groveland. As a result, we aim to see enhanced quality of life for residents and increased economic opportunity for new and existing small businesses. Groveland is positioned to be the new frontier for people that want to create cutting edge, thriving and inclusive communities that will stand the test of time.”
 
In conjunction with the City’s updated Future Land Use Element, which conserves more than 50% of natural land within about 53 square miles, the Community Development Code features the new Future Land Use designations and community types of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets.  Each Community Type features a minimum Open Space percentage requirement: 15%, 30%, and 50% for Town, Village, and Hamlet, respectively. Similarly, there is a series of permitted “Open Space Types” for each Community Type.

The Open Space requirements for the Open Space Types ensure that small park-like spaces are incorporated into all new developments. Aside from the Open Space requirements, developments will include shade trees, on-street parking, wide sidewalks and active building frontages to enhance the pedestrian experience. Prioritizing pedestrians and bicyclists, the new standards outlined for thoroughfares will create more complete streets for all users.

For more information go to: www.groveland-fl.gov


To read about implementing the Groveland's Vision. 

 

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CNU Florida's 2020 Summit a Virtual Success

December 15, 2020

In a year characterized by constant change, new challenges and general unpredictability, CNU Florida addressed the heightened need for New Urbanism during the 2020 CNU Florida Statewide Virtual Summit, held September 21–25.  Through virtual workshops and collaborative sessions, this year’s summit explored the role New Urbanists play as leaders in our communities, uniquely positioned to help tackle issues from equity to the pandemic to natural disasters.

Beginning with a special pre-summit Complete Streets workshop led by Dover-Kohl and PartnersHall Planning and Engineering, and the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department, the 2020 CNU Florida Statewide Summit continued the tradition of delivering high caliber, practicable content from leaders at the forefront of reshaping our communities to be better places for people. Sessions by Better Block, the City of West Palm Beach and the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, and the City of Thomasville with creative firm Fontaine Maury provided tools to equip New Urbanists for their mission to build places people love.

On Monday, CNU President and CEO Lynn Richards kicked off the weeklong summit by challenging attendees to expand their scope to work on both emerging and systemic challenges like equity, racism, and empowering historically oppressed communities. Further addressing both emerging and systemic challenges, a presentation from Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns provided a toolkit for local leaders responding to the pandemic. 

As the week progressed, DPZ CoDesign planner Andres Duany challenged current paradigms and dogma as he shared new approaches to urbanism and design in light of the pandemic. The Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority discussed ideas for pivoting in unprecedented times, and lessons were learned from Panama City on rebuilding after natural disasters to be more equitable and more resilient.

With so many new ideas being shared, Florida State University staff highlighted ways to process them through the meaning-making process and demonstrated how places and spaces can be designed to promote meaningful reflection.

These rich sessions, complemented by virtual tours and social hours, coalesced to deliver a successful and inspiring CNU Florida Statewide Summit in a virtual format. With a huge thank you to the sponsors, the speakers, the summit planning team, and everyone who participated, let us apply the tools, expand on the ideas, and leverage the networking from the summit to continue CNU’s leadership in shaping the future of Florida and each of our communities.

As we look ahead, the CNU Florida board is already preparing for the 2021 Statewide Summit. Share your ideas or topics with us at [email protected].

 

Sincerely,

Artie White, 2020 CNU Florida Summit Chair,
CNU Florida Board Treasurer

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CNU Florida Summit September 21 to 25

August 15, 2020

The Congress for the New Urbanism convened for the first time in a virtual gathering last June, focusing on how New Urbanists are adapting to new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now it is time for our annual CNU Florida Summit, September 21 to 25, 2020, hosted by our Tallahassee Regional Group.  Please take this wonderful opportunity to focus on critical Florida-related issues of Urban and Transportation Design.  

The preliminary Agenda includes items of special interest:

  • Andres Duany discussing his latest thinking on New Urbanist responses to Covid-19;
  • Victor Dover leading a Context Classification Workshop, where participants study and propose how to resolve Complete Streets implementation challenges using Context Classification Tools;
  • Chuck Marohn, Strong Towns discussing how Florida cities and towns can better achieve economic stability and prosperity in these unprecedented times; 
  • Presentation of the Nolen Medal – the Chapter’s highest award.
  • Unvacant Lot Design Competition with your team submitting plans to activate a lot of your choice!

CNU Florida has reduced Summit registration fees to as little as $50 for members and $25 for students, still with plentiful opportunities to hear from our movement’s brightest minds, obtain continuing education credits, and to socialize.  With no hotel or travel costs, this is CNU Florida’s most affordable Summit ever. 

In so many ways, New Urbanists can respond to the unprecedented challenges to our neighborhoods, towns, and cities across Florida.  What better time to collaborate, share, and encourage one another as we lead the way?

REGISTER HERE.

Sincerely yours,
Rick Geller, CNU Florida Chair
Winter Park, FL

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The Future of New Urbanism in a Virtual Gathering

May 15, 2020

The Congress for the New Urbanism convenes for the first time in a virtual gathering on June 10-13. CNU.28 will undoubtedly focus on how New Urbanists are adapting to new realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
CNU has reduced registration fees to as little as $250, still with plentiful opportunities to hear from our movement’s brightest minds, to obtain continuing education credits, and to socialize. With no hotel or travel costs, this is the most economical Congress ever.

REGISTER HERE


In so many ways, New Urbanists are uniquely positioned to respond to the unprecedented changes in our street, neighborhoods, and cities across the nation. What better time to collaborate, share, and encourage one another to lead the way to “the new normal.”
 
Transportation Infrastructure
Families in lockdown are retrieving old bicycles from garages and exploring their neighborhoods and local trails in record numbers. New Urbanist planners and transportation engineers are among those most ready with design solutions to meet the increased public demand for new and connected trails, cycle tracks, and other infrastructure geared to those of all ages and abilities.

Neighborhood Architecture
The loss of front porches and balconies from our nation’s post-War architectural vernacular has exacerbated the sense of isolation for many. But not at Seaside and other New Urban neighborhoods where these revived architectural traditions are encouraging neighborly connections, even from a distance. New Urbanist architects are among those best prepared to meet new consumer and industry demand when the real estate market recovers.
 
Reclaiming Parking Lots and Streets
The decline of brick and mortar retail has accelerated, with tens of millions more migrating to online purchasing. Motorist traffic and parking demand has diminished, creating opportunities to transform streets and barren parking lots into outdoor dining areas. Orlando, Edgewood, and other municipalities are waiving parking requirements and allowing restaurants to expand into unneeded parking spaces, increasing restaurant capacity and the ability of small businesses to survive. New Urbanists have long stood at the forefront of efforts to right-size, relocate, and share parking lots.
 

The City of Winter Park allowing socially distanced tables for dining on Park Avenue, expanding restaurant capacity beyond the state’s 25% indoor limit. Photo credit: Clyde Moore. 

Giving the Elderly Community
COVID-19 has battered seniors and the elderly living in nursing and assisted living homes. New Urbanism’s aging in place strategies can reformat the senior independent and assisted living paradigm into true urban neighborhoods, enabling seniors and the elderly to maintain greater independence and healthier lives for longer.

Transit-Oriented Development
Transit-Oriented Development arose out of New Urbanism and, hence, New Urbanists are among our nation’s most articulate advocates of thoughtfully planned transit expansion. People with battered savings in a deep recession will need public transportation more than ever as the economy recovers. Health and safety protocols—frequent disinfection, riders required to wear masks, the availability of hand sanitizers, and capacity limits to enable social distancing—will figure into the new norm.
 
Understanding Viral Spread and Population Density
Close human proximity enables virus transmission. But Robert Steuteville has documented that disease prevalence does not necessarily follow density. Suburban Westchester County, New York has a higher infection rate than New York City. New Orleans (aided by Mardis Gras) exceeds the infection rate of larger and denser San Francisco (mitigated by an earlier lockdown).

Internationally, due to a strict lockdown, Argentina has had fewer than 320 COVID-19 deaths (as of this writing), an astonishingly small figure given the enormous scale and density of Buenos Aires.

Lesson learned: More densely populated areas require closures and crowd avoidance as early in a disease cycle as possible. Due to the exponential spread of infectious diseases, a small reduction in disease transmission early in the cycle translates into massive disease reduction over time.
 
In Conclusion…
In the long run, COVID-19 will not likely empty out our denser cities and towns anymore than the trauma of
9-11 ended airline travel or skyscraper construction. When this national emergency ends, the amenities, economic opportunities, and beauty of urban cities and neighborhoods will again attract people. Cities, towns, and urbanizing suburbs can adapt safely, and New Urbanists, who are taking COVID-19 as a serious public health threat, are well positioned to credibly help lead the way. 

Sincerely yours,
Rick Geller, CNU Florida Chair

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From the Chair

March 14, 2020

During this uncertain time, community is more important than ever. the Congress for the New Urbanism is all about building communities where people can interact--even if virtually. For now, CNU Florida and our regional groups are suspending programming—except for online streaming—until after the COVID-19 emergency has passed. We need to brace ourselves for an invisible threat in our cities, suburbs, and towns that could last for months, not weeks. (China’s new infection rate is declining after 3 months, according to the Associated Press).

We have never seen anything like this in our lifetime—mandated and voluntary restaurant, bar and coffeehouse closures, travel restrictions, sports cancellations, and colleges sending students home. The intertwined economic ripples are hitting the economy hard, especially small businesses. These are the businesses that often incubate in New Urban and traditional urban communities. In order to support them and their employees, consider purchasing take-out and delivery meals, or ordering their merchandise online.

Non-profits, like the CNU, which rely on galas and conferences for their annual operating revenues, will also need your support. If the CNU transforms the national Congress in St. Paul-Minneapolis in June into an online experience, please participate and do what you can to help the organization financially.

CNU is about creating places that inspire the human spirit and create a real sense of community. CNU members planned, engineered, and constructed the towns, neighborhoods, and streets where we form strong bonds with, help, and care for others. The paradox of COVID-19 is that, in a pandemic, we help others by avoiding them. Avoid unnecessary travel. Practice “social distancing.” We do not know who is and is not infected, but we do know that the infection rate is doubling about every three days. Avoidance is the only way to “flatten the curve” of viral infection to a point where we do not overwhelm our hospitals, physicians, and healthcare workers.

The last historical precedent, the Spanish Flu epidemic, rampaged through American cities in 1918, according to an article in Popular Science. Attendance at a parade in Philadelphia spread the epidemic, resulting in 12,000 deaths, compared to St. Louis, whose mandatory business, government, and church closures held deaths to 1,703. Let's learn from the example set by St. Louis to help protect the vulnerable in our communities.

Please do everything you can to keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy and safe. When this passes, we will look to all of you to help CNU Florida resume its vital mission.

Sincerely yours, Rick Geller, CNU Florida Chair

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CNU Florida is growing...

January 15, 2020

CNU Florida is proud to welcome our newest regional group: CNU of the Palm Beaches. This local group formed last year, with the goal of highlighting affordable housing, transportation and legislative policy that addresses rising sea levels. 2019 saw its first foray into educational events including a presentation on the town center and walking tour with local officials in the master-planned community, Abacoa, located in Jupiter, Florida. The goal was to introduce members to New Urbanist places and ideas. The chapter met to formulate a list of big-picture ideas and goals it wants to promote. In February, they will create a strategic plan to transform those ideas into action steps.
 
CNU of the Palm Beaches is making its presence known to county and regional governing boards while partnering with groups like the American Planning Association, Institute of Transportation Professionals and local group, Connect West Palm Beach. A busy 2020 is planned with outreach and education including an Earth Day celebration. To find out more, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram.

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From the Board

November 15, 2019

On behalf of the Board of Directors for CNU Florida, thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the 2019 CNU Statewide Meeting a success. The Tampa Bay chapter hosted a spectacular event where attendees could exchange New Urbanist ideas and strategies right in the heart of a revitalized area near downtown Tampa.

Thank you to all our sponsors, attendees, board members and planning committee who made this incredible conference possible. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.
 
Debra Hempel, CNU Florida Board Member
Tampa, FL

CNU Florida's Board of Directors with the Tampa Bay planning committee

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From the Chair

July 29, 2019

Let me extend a warm invitation to you to attend the CNU Florida Statewide Meeting in Downtown Tampa, October 3-4, 2019.  This is the premier New Urbanist event in the State of Florida, the birthplace of our movement.  If you have not yet attended a Statewide Meeting, I can promise you captivating speakers, innovative ideas, and welcoming colleagues who, like you, are dedicated to making Florida a better place.  A “Who’s Who” of New Urbanists from the fields of planning, engineering, academics, architecture, as well as developers, investors, governmental officials, and citizen advocates will attend.  Join us.  And please share this with your colleagues.  Click here to register today. 

Our new board of directors—including vice chair Billy Hattaway, treasurer Eliza Harris Juliano, secretary Michelle Zehnder, and at-large director Debra Hempel—took the organization’s helm last fall.  We are prioritizing improved communications to and among our members. You may be viewing this blog on our new website or in an email newsletter, the first of what we aim to provide to CNU Florida members every other month

If you have not kept your membership current, please do so promptly at this link. Your membership in the CNU automatically makes you a member of CNU Florida and financially supports our mission. We need your help to make Florida more beautiful, economically vibrant, environmentally sustainable, and healthier for its citizens and visitors. 

In our newsletters, we would like you and other CNU members to present wonderful projects from around the State of Florida furthering the Charter of the New Urbanism. Please email us your submissions—photographs, renderings, and a description of up to 250 words—to [email protected]  We welcome all such projects, whether yours, another’s, or your community’s. 

Last fall, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk extended the prior board’s request that we succeed them.  Lizz and Andres and their firm, DPZ, have given us an amazing legacy of New Urbanism—and their work continues. The towns they planned in the Panhandle—Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and Alys Beach—all so remarkably different, outshine Florida’s ubiquitous sprawl. Here in Winter Park, I can visit quaint New England Avenue at Hannibal Square, planned by Andres years ago. Through their groundbreaking work and intellect, Lizz and Andres have changed the conversation about land planning in the State of Florida, in the nation, and beyond. 

Join me in honoring and building upon their legacy. Register now for the Statewide Meeting, October 3-4, in Downtown Tampa. 

Rick Geller
CNU Florida Chair
Winter Park, Florida
August 15, 2019

 

Ybor City, Tampa

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