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bobliocatt

Height Limits for Jax's Intracoastal Waterway?

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I'm amazed that we have articles like this ... yet some people still claim that sprawl is the result of the free market!!

It's quite clear to me that a true free market would produce many more skyscrapers and dense developments than we have under the current system. As it is, misguided government forces continue to misdirect the bulk of economic energy from our real estate boom out to the woods of St. Johns county.

The only good thing I can imagine coming from this (and the ABSURD beaches height limits) is that it might inadvertantly create an economic advantage for downtown - if it becomes the only place in town where one can live above 100ft with a river view.

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I'm amazed that we have articles like this ... yet some people still claim that sprawl is the result of the free market!!

It's quite clear to me that a true free market would produce many more skyscrapers and dense developments than we have under the current system. As it is, misguided government forces continue to misdirect the bulk of economic energy from our real estate boom out to the woods of St. Johns county.

Captain: How right you are. In fact, government created the sprawl we see today by building highways and enacting building codes which required a separation between business and residential use and a minimum number of parking spots. The truth is if you want more of something, have the government subsidize it (see also the homeless population). Sprawl isnt economically efficient, it is just government subsidized and, in some cases, required. Some of the lefties on here should consider this.

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I think that the height limit issue is case by case. In Atlantic Beach, high-rises don't fit and really don't need to be built there because it is a residential suburban area. It is good in this case because it is helping downtown grow and become stronger. I am someone who is for proper development in the proper place. Maybe it is good that there could be a height limit on the Intracoastal because it will force developers to downtown.

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Frankly, I don't see the point of a height limit on the Intracoastal.

Those typically serve a purpose such as airport clearence or specific viewpoints but neither of those impede on tall development on the waterway.

Hurricane evacutation expedition is a completely invalid point as they would not be evactuating the building 1-2 minutes before the hurricane hits but 1-2 days.

The idea of a height cao spawning more DT development doesn't hold up much either because the developer wants the building on the Intracoastal, not the St Johns River, Beach or other.

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The idea of a height cao spawning more DT development doesn't hold up much either because the developer wants the building on the Intracoastal, not the St Johns River, Beach or other.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, the people at Vestcor did tell me that the restrictions at the beaches were what made Marina San Pablo viable. (Even before the outright height limit, the restrictions were severe). Beaches supply couldn't keep up with demand, so people were looking for other waterfront condos. They only told me this in passing, they didn't do a study or anything ... but they were pretty explicit about it.

Also, the real estate agents for MSP told me that most of the people looking at MSP were basically deciding between them and the Peninsula. Again, that's only what they said in passing. I didn't see a chart or anything. But it seems clear that there's a market connection.

But, of course I agree with you ... a height restriction on the Intracoastal is utterly stupid. Even if it actually would help downtown's condo market, that's no excuse for doing it.

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One thing that could result is that taller condos on the Intracoastal could damage the wetlands along the intracoastal. They are protected and help to make Jaclsonville for what it is. It is a welcoming site driving across the bridge and seeing all of the wetlands that line the waterway. Just something to think about...

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I don't think they would do any more damage than building single family homes, with large sodded yards would do. If a height limit must be done, its best to limit it to certain areas of the Intracostal. For example, the JTB/San Pablo Interchange already has 3 buildings (Mayo Clinic, Allstate Insurance and Marina San Pablo, around 10 stories tall and a bridge, just as high. It also has the capacity to support a higher population density, then say....the area between Atlantic and Beach Blvds. Smart growth shouldn't be limited in that area, just because someone likes the look of single family homes more than highrises.

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You can have growth around certain areas but some areas dont really need to have highrises. The areas around the marsh on the east side cant really support them. It is a matter of denisty and a larger population on the marsh that could potentially be more damaging.

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The Eastside of the marsh areas are different municipalities. This would only apply to the westside. I don't think vertical density, if done right, will do any more damage to the environment than single family homes would.

Environmental damage occurs from things like stormwater drain-off, from roads and yards/landscaped areas sprayed with pesticides, as well as the filling in of wetlands and mowing down natural vegetation to accomodate development. It can be argued that vertical density may be better for the environment, because it disturbs less land and allows for more open and natural space.

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Yes, I am aware that they are different municipalities because I am a resident of Atlantic Beach. I was using that as an example to support my opinions about the height limit on the Intracoastal Waterway. As for the vertical growth being better for the enviroment, that cannot be the case. There would be more residents which would result in more traffic on the roads. Plus, in most cases, a larger foundation is needed to support a tall structure. Usually, if one condo is built in an area, more will be on the way and could lead to some other issues. I am just for development in its proper place. That is all.

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^However, if condos are clustered (ex. the Southbank or Jax Beach), traffic can be easily funneled to major highways that have the capacity to support high traffic counts. With good design, and a proper street layout higher density also means the area can support support retail and services that will limit the need to drive miles down various two lane roads to get to places,like the grocery store or doctor. Both density and low density have their pros and cons, but saving the environment isn't one of them.

Jax is already a spread out low-rise/low density city with a horrible street layout, so we've already proven that building low density doesn't benefit the traffic flow and reduce the need for more roads. The best way to save the natural environment is not to build there at all. I agree that height limits have their proper place. I can easily see why height limits are needed in places like Charleston, Savannah, St. Augustine or even Springfield. I just don't believe that the west side of the Intracoastal, with San Pablo running parallel to the waterway, funneling traffic to JTB, is one of them.

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In an ideal world, I wish that we could develop and plan things as we want but that is impossible, of course. The only problem I see with some condos being built is that more would follow suit like Miami Beach. It could very well be congested along the routes out to JTB. My only concern is what could happen if too much development is allowed out there. I am not suggesting to destroy all development on the Intracoastal but limit the amount and put in a resonable height limit. A compromise sort of...Not being a NIMBY just questioning. I would support all heights and quality developments where they belong, especially in downtown. Just dont want a Myrtle Beach to come out of a small, historical area like the Beaches community.

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You can have growth around certain areas but some areas dont really need to have highrises. The areas around the marsh on the east side cant really support them. It is a matter of denisty and a larger population on the marsh that could potentially be more damaging.

In an ideal world, I wish that we could develop and plan things as we want but that is impossible, of course. The only problem I see with some condos being built is that more would follow suit like Miami Beach. It could very well be congested along the routes out to JTB. My only concern is what could happen if too much development is allowed out there. I am not suggesting to destroy all development on the Intracoastal but limit the amount and put in a resonable height limit. A compromise sort of...Not being a NIMBY just questioning. I would support all heights and quality developments where they belong, especially in downtown. Just dont want a Myrtle Beach to come out of a small, historical area like the Beaches community.

I'm with you dawg. I think a reasonable compromise can be found. When I first discovered Jacksonville, the thing that impressed me the most was that the beaches and intracoastal marsh views were available for all to enjoy. Having once lived in Myrtle Beach, I knew what the opposite extreme looks like. It's not pretty. Unfortunately, over the years, those unobstructed views are being slowly lost.

While I can support an exception for the JTB/Intracoastal corridor (because it is too late anyway), I think a height limit, to match the existing east side limit is appropriate. It doesn't make much sense to have one side at 35' or less and the West side unlimited. That largely defeats the purpose. That goes for the redevelopement at Mayport as well.

And BTW, there is nothing inherently wrong in being a NIMBY, after all it is YOUR yard.

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Thanks vic. Also, dont be worried about Mayport. It is in good hands. They are keeping the character and nothing over 40 feet will be built. Ceder shakes will be used and it will look like a small Fernandina when it is complete.

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I'm with you dawg. I think a reasonable compromise can be found. When I first discovered Jacksonville, the thing that impressed me the most was that the beaches and intracoastal marsh views were available for all to enjoy. Having once lived in Myrtle Beach, I knew what the opposite extreme looks like. It's not pretty. Unfortunately, over the years, those unobstructed views are being slowly lost.

While I can support an exception for the JTB/Intracoastal corridor (because it is too late anyway), I think a height limit, to match the existing east side limit is appropriate. It doesn't make much sense to have one side at 35' or less and the West side unlimited.

Imo, it doesn't matter whether a building is 20 stories or 20ft tall. If its on the waterway, it will block your view, point blank. From my experience, and Atlantic Beach is no exception, the height limit makes for horizontal, sprawling houses and apartment complexes, that COMPLETELY block the view of the ocean. So to me, the argument of preserving views is horribly flawed, unless there are 40ft tall people walking around. If anyone is truly interested in preserving views, then development along the waterway should just be outlawed out right and preserved for public use only.

The story behind this height limit proposal is a councilman who doesn't want a 20 story condo tower in his district. Its fine if you don't want it, because you don't like tall buildings in suburban neighborhoods. I don't have anything against that. However, its just wrong when you try to push make believe issues and personal opinions, across as facts to change a citywide zoning ordinance. From the story I've read on this issue, that what it seems like Councilman Clark is doing.

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In an ideal world, I wish that we could develop and plan things as we want but that is impossible, of course. The only problem I see with some condos being built is that more would follow suit like Miami Beach.

For the record, what's the problem with Miami Beach? For the most part Miami Beach is a lowrise city with gridded streets. Most of the Atlantic Beach is left open for public use with no buildings (highrise or lowrise) blocking anyone's views or access to the beach (check out Ocean Drive). If anything, Miami Beach should be a great example for our beach communities of how to preserve views and create great pedestrian oriented places for residents and tourist. I think you may be confusing Miami Beach, with North Miami Beach, Sunny Isles or Aventura.

It could very well be congested along the routes out to JTB. My only concern is what could happen if too much development is allowed out there. I am not suggesting to destroy all development on the Intracoastal but limit the amount and put in a resonable height limit. A compromise sort of...Not being a NIMBY just questioning. I would support all heights and quality developments where they belong, especially in downtown. Just dont want a Myrtle Beach to come out of a small, historical area like the Beaches community.

I don't want to see any of our beach communities become or resemble a Daytona or Mrytle Beach either. South Beach....maybe, but Atlantic City....no way. However, I just believe that the height issue isn't as more important and quality architecture and land planning. Unlike Jax Beach and the Jax Intracoastal area, at least the planners of this Mayport project seem to be taking the architectural design of the project serious, in an effort to preserve the historic fishing village look.

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Imo, it doesn't matter whether a building is 20 stories or 20ft tall. If its on the waterway, it will block your view, point blank. From my experience, and Atlantic Beach is no exception, the height limit makes for horizontal, sprawling houses and apartment complexes, that COMPLETELY block the view of the ocean. So to me, the argument of preserving views is horribly flawed, unless there are 40ft tall people walking around. If anyone is truly interested in preserving views, then development along the waterway should just be outlawed out right and preserved for public use only.

The story behind this height limit proposal is a councilman who doesn't want a 20 story condo tower in his district. Its fine if you don't want it, because you don't like tall buildings in suburban neighborhoods. I don't have anything against that. However, its just wrong when you try to push make believe issues and personal opinions, across as facts to change a citywide zoning ordinance. From the story I've read on this issue, that what it seems like Councilman Clark is doing.

I haven't been to AB in awhile, so I can't be too specific on it. But typically a strictly residential beach does provide better views because these single family homes have side yards that allow sight of the dunes and/or water. The condo buildings in Myrtle Beach typically are built with very little side yard setback, in order to maximize the ocean frontage. Often even that is blocked by dumpsters, etc.

Additionally, in strictly residential beaches, many of the houses are raised off the ground, thus allowing still more sight lines. Whereas, condo buildings typically have enclosed surface or garage parking on the ground level.

Just as important to me, when on the beach itself, the jarring appearance of 20 story monolithic, bland condos (directly on the beach) detracts significantly from the ambience of being on the beach. We all have seen prints of beach houses, but how often do you see a print of a condo tower.

Lastly, even driving parallel to the beach, even several blocks away, a continuous row of high-rise condos is going to create a completely different environment than single family houses. A beach is suppose to be a laid back, relaxing get away from the concrete jungle. Such a place has to be at a reasonable human scale to maintain that effect.

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I haven't been to AB in awhile, so I can't be too specific on it. But typically a strictly residential beach does provide better views because these single family homes have side yards that allow sight of the dunes and/or water. The condo buildings in Myrtle Beach typically are built with very little side yard setback, in order to maximize the ocean frontage. Often even that is blocked by dumpsters, etc.

Additionally, in strictly residential beaches, many of the houses are raised off the ground, thus allowing still more sight lines. Whereas, condo buildings typically have enclosed surface or garage parking on the ground level.

What you've described has more to do with zoning then it does with height. While your example may be the case in South Carolina, but its definately different here in metro Jax. Our beach front homes typically sit on higher elevations, thus many don't sit on stilts. On top of that, the typical setbacks are relatively small, which allows McMansions to build horizontally. So instead of water views, the public gets views of 2 & 3 car garages that consume most of the typical lot's street frontage. Here's a picture of a low-rise beach street in metro Jax. As you can imagine, its pretty difficult to see the beach.

atlanticbeachstreet9nq.jpg

Before Jax Beach's height restriction took effect, the only way a building could grow in height was for the parcel of land to have wide setbacks, which in return allowed more waterfront views, for those traveling along 1st Street.

Just as important to me, when on the beach itself, the jarring appearance of 20 story monolithic, bland condos (directly on the beach) detracts significantly from the ambience of being on the beach. We all have seen prints of beach houses, but how often do you see a print of a condo tower.
Once again, this has more to do with zoning and architectural guidelines, then it does with the building type itself. Imo, a bad bland building can be 2 stories tall or 13. Here we have plenty bad examples of both.

Lastly, even driving parallel to the beach, even several blocks away, a continuous row of high-rise condos is going to create a completely different environment than single family houses. A beach is suppose to be a laid back, relaxing get away from the concrete jungle. Such a place has to be at a reasonable human scale to maintain that effect.

A beach in an urban area, is also supposed to have great public, vibrant and exciting, instead of being reserved only for the few who can afford to pay millions to build McMansions on it. Miami Beach is considered by some to be a concrete jungle, yet its also relaxing, exciting and is more accessible to the general public then our beaches are. Although its got height in certain areas, our beaches, outside of Town Center and Jax Beach are more hostile to human scale, because most of the buildings have poor interaction with the street. A 35ft wall is just as bad as a 100ft one. On top of this, we have a metro of 1.2 million people. Like downtown and other areas of our metro, a certain part of our beaches should be allowed to grow up. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any reserved residential areas, but there's nothing wrong with allowing some mid-rises in the form of hotels and condos, with commerical uses at their bases, in certain areas. In closing, I'll leave you with some pics of Miami Beach.

Even though some buildings have height, they all interact with the street. This is much more relaxing and exciting for the average pedestrian than our beaches.

oceandrivehotel8sr.jpg

Good architecture is not limited to 35ft.

lincolnoldhighrise1xm.jpg

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I would love to demo anything east of first street along a 10-15 block stretch centered on the pier and leave everything west to build as thick and as tall as the market demands. That way we would be able to build a sizeable boardwalk and ensure that developments lining First St. would offer a walkable street interaction to produce a feel like that of Ft. Lauderdale and South Beach offering unobstructed views of the ocean.

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Just for the sake of adding visual descriptions:

Here's a typical oceanfront aerial of our beaches. As you can clearly see, the oceanfront view has been eliminated from Beach Avenue.

atlanticbeachaerial6tb.jpg

Here's an aerial of Miami Beach. While the community is denser and has buildings over 35ft, the beach is a lot more accessible to the general public.

miamibeachaerial3ad.jpg

Imo, height isn't the issue its being made out to be. Zoning, in the form of architectual quality, poor landing planning and building setbacks should be of more importance.

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lake, you do make some good points; however, some of the comments that you have made are slighty skewed. First of all, the picture that you provided of Atlantic Beach in between 18th and 19th does not accurately show what is on the hill. (I know this because I was born and raised for 19 years one block south of the picture taken). In fact, you managed to get my house in one of the pictures. The picture on the street was taken at an angle, and that is one of the more dense areas of Atlantic Beach. As you travel north or south, the beach can clearly be seen. That is also the only hill that is in Atlantic Beach as well, obstructing some views to the west. An ammendment was passed a few years ago, stating that within a four lot block, only 6 livable units may be built. that would be four homes and two garages. Unfortunately, these homes between 17th and 18th were built before that. New structures will have to abide by the ammendment. Also, with the new mayor, Don Wolfson, being elected, things will change regarding the zoning allowing for more open space between homes. Homes in the residential district will not be allowed over 35 feet, and zoning setbacks will be changed to allow more views of the ocean. Second, the area that you designated does not need to have large tourist draw. More street interaction should take place by town center, not by 17th street, where no commerical zoning is located. Town Center has access for tourists and is very interactive with the street. Also, the one street you picked happens not to have an access. 16th and 18th, both less than one block away has plenty of parking and a nicely landscaped walkway. Remember that the sea dunes cannot be disturbed either because it is against the law to build on them. Special permits need to be attained to build even a walkway to the beach. The street that the photo shows is ONE way north and should not be widened because no outside traffic exists. There are dunes and homes that line the beach there and it should not be compared to a small section of Miami Beach at all. In fact, the area that you selected, Lummus Park, is a very small park area in Miami Beach. The rest of the beach have condominiums that back up to the ocean. Just some information for you to chew on...

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lake, you do make some good points; however, some of the comments that you have made are slighty skewed. First of all, the picture that you provided of Atlantic Beach in between 18th and 19th does not accurately show what is on the hill. (I know this because I was born and raised for 19 years one block south of the picture taken). In fact, you managed to get my house in one of the pictures. The picture on the street was taken at an angle, and that is one of the more dense areas of Atlantic Beach. As you travel north or south, the beach can clearly be seen. That is also the only hill that is in Atlantic Beach as well, obstructing some views to the west.

I could pick almost any area, along First Street, in the Beach communities and you'll get the same results. The setbacks are a minimum and homes block views to the oceanfront. Whether the house, hotel or condo is 20ft or 60ft, the results won't change, as long as the cities continue to endorse low quality architecture, land planning and development. Here's some of Jax Beach and Neptune Beach.

Jacksonville Beach

jacksonvillebeach9ax.jpg

Neptune Beach

neptunebeach5hq.jpg

An amendment was passed a few years ago, stating that within a four lot block, only 6 livable units may be built. that would be four homes and two garages. Unfortunately, these homes between 17th and 18th were built before that. New structures will have to abide by the ammendment. Also, with the new mayor, Don Wolfson, being elected, things will change regarding the zoning allowing for more open space between homes. Homes in the residential district will not be allowed over 35 feet, and zoning setbacks will be changed to allow more views of the ocean.

Hopefully the Mayor will implement wider setbacks or better yet, buy a significant plot of ocean front property and convert it into an ocean front park. Another good idea would be to take a page out of the Mayport group's page and actually determine what is the character of the community and how should future buildings be designed or laid out to fit within the desired style.

Second, the area that you designated does not need to have large tourist draw. More street interaction should take place by town center, not by 17th street, where no commerical zoning is located. Town Center has access for tourists and is very interactive with the street. Also, the one street you picked happens not to have an access. 16th and 18th, both less than one block away has plenty of parking and a nicely landscaped walkway. Remember that the sea dunes cannot be disturbed either because it is against the law to build on them. Special permits need to be attained to build even a walkway to the beach. The street that the photo shows is ONE way north and should not be widened because no outside traffic exists.

I never meant to imply turning residential areas into commercial or even widening the streets. Ocean views also don't have to be for tourist. What about for residents who live off of the oceanfront? My main point was that height limit issues pale in comparison and mask the true problems, which are poor architectural standards, land planning and setback requirements. Many have used Miami Beach as an example of what they don't want to be, when in reality, its more accessible to the public and more welcoming at the pedestrian scale, despite having taller buildings.

There are dunes and homes that line the beach there and it should not be compared to a small section of Miami Beach at all. In fact, the area that you selected, Lummus Park, is a very small park area in Miami Beach. The rest of the beach have condominiums that back up to the ocean. Just some information for you to chew on...

That particular park is over 10 blocks long or 9 times as long as any waterfront views or public accessible areas in any of our beach communities, outside of Hanna Park, which is unfortuantely isolated and only accessible from Mayport Rd, by car. Nevertheless, even in portions of the city with dense highrise development the a wide landscaped "oceanwalk" still allows more access for residents and visitors to enjoy the breezes, views, sunshine and even do recreational things like roller blading or cycling without having to share roadways with vehicular traffic.

A dense cluster of highrises in northern part of Miami Beach

miamibeach9di.jpg

Btw, Palm Beach is an excellent example of a low rise (most buildings under 10 stories), mostly residential beachfront community, that still offers vast oceanfront views and access for all visitors and all residents of Palm Beach County.

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