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


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.


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


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