Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

bobliocatt

Brevard now 500,000 strong -- and growing

Recommended Posts

8 April 04

Milestone means more homes, traffic

BY JOHN MCCARTHY

FLORIDA TODAY

The next time somebody plans a million-person march, Brevard County can provide half the marchers.

A new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau today pegs Brevard's population at 505,711, the first time the county has topped the half-million mark.

There are no special honors for joining the ranks of the 120 counties in the nation that large. New business won't suddenly start flocking here, nor will it mean an influx of federal or state money.

The milestone -- more than anything -- reflects the county's rapid growth since the U.S. government decided to make the nearly-uninhabited county the starting point for space exploration in the 1950s.

"The building is just nonstop," said Iris Cox, who lives in Cocoa. "The change here is really dramatic from when I was a child."

Because more people have died here than were born in the county in recent years, all the growth has come from people moving here from elsewhere.

"Most people are coming from up North," said Lauren Munson, a real estate agent in Cocoa Beach. "And the rest are coming from Miami and South Florida."

According to the Census Bureau, nearly 10,000 people moved into the county between July 1, 2002, and July 1, 2003, the date of the most recent estimate.

To put that in perspective, it's like adding another Satellite Beach to the county in just 12 months.

Home prices rise

That growth has affected the county in a number of ways -- some positive, some negative, some subtle, some not-so-subtle.

The most visible change is the housing developments and condominiums, which seem to spring up overnight.

"We used to see surges in the first quarter. Now we see surges all year long," said Binki Kaiser, vice president of sales for Melbourne-based Holiday Homes.

More than $1 billion in new homes, condos and apartments were built in Brevard in 2003.

And the demand for new housing has driven up home prices in the county, adding to the net worth of longtime homeowners. The median home value in Brevard climbed from $94,400 in 1999 to $143,400 in January.

The newcomers tend to buy newer, more expensive homes, adding to property tax rolls. The taxable value of all property in Brevard has increased by almost a third in the past five years to $21.9 billion. That means tens of millions of dollars more in taxes for local government agencies.

All that construction creates jobs and not only for construction workers. Each new home requires appliances, furniture and other items and the new residents shop in local stores, buy gasoline from local stations and eat in local restaurants, creating hundreds of new jobs in their wake.

The county has gained more than 4,000 jobs in the past year, with more than 1,000 of those in construction. At 4.2 percent, Brevard's unemployment rate is well below the nation figure of 5.7 percent.

And, of course, real estate agents aren't lacking things to keep them busy. "I'm super busy, selling like crazy. A home or two a week. A condo or two a week," Munson said.

Crowded schools

On the flip side, the roads are more congested and the school system has to contend with large waves of new students each year.

"The traffic's horrible on Wickham," said Rebeccah Jones, who lives in Merritt Island. "My only complaint is the traffic."

Enough new students enter the school system each year to fill a typical elementary school, said Brevard County Schools spokeswoman Sara Stern. Between 1999 and this year, school enrollment has jumped 4,190 to 73,849.

That, combined with a voter-mandate to limit class sizes, is a tough row to hoe, she said. "We really need to stay ahead of the growth, but that is very difficult, especially with limited resources."

Stern said the school system plans to build a new high school and two new elementary schools over the next three years to handle the new students, as well as either buy or lease another 121 portable classrooms.

More stores

The growing population also creates a greater need for new stores. In the coming months, several national retail outlets will be opening their first Brevard stores.

It is not only the new residents that are bringing the new stores here, it is also the money those residents have to spend.

Ernie Euler, who is helping develop the upscale The Avenue Viera shopping center, said marketing studies have shown that Brevard shoppers have higher-than-normal incomes with plenty of cash for discretionary spending.

Among the stores scheduled to open in the 415,000-square-foot center are Abercrombie & Fitch, Belk and Ann Taylor, as well as a 16-screen movie theater.

"The sheer numbers are obviously a factor from the retailer's perspective," said Euler, who is president of Melbourne's Matthew Development. "I think just as important is the profile of the demographics of the county. ... (Retailers) feel extremely comfortable with the profile of the area."

The population of the county has increased by nearly 30,000 since the 2000 census. That's more than the population of all but the three largest cities in the county.

"The construction boom we are seeing right now is unprecedented in its duration," said Mel Scott, zoning and planning director for the county. "We are an incredibly attractive place to live."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I really like the Brevard area. There's the space program, some beautiful natural areas and nice beaches. I always liked the vibe there as well. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, most of the growth is sprawl and beachside condos. There's very little "urban" growth. I wonder if it's turning into a Orlando suburb as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it is. I am baffled at how technology has played a major role in how this area was developed, the space center, many goverment contracting companies have offices/plants there and how "business as usual" thinking they have about development continues.

The county and local bodies have been struggling with this for years. I hope the Brevard Tomorrow forum and some of the leadership there can guide the development that will maintain/enhance the qualities of the region there.

The county and municpal goverments thought that places like Viera and Bayside Lakes are thoughtful developments, maybe it is the new factor of these places, are images/places to come. But it is still the same packaged in a new box. Cities like Palm Bay, who lack identity, create imagery of nostalgia of what the place used to be - rural, cracker, serene, and impose design precedent to structures of today - leading places to become false instead of looking to areas that work - the old downtown districts of Melbourne, Eau Gallie, Cocoa, Titusville. Instead these places are called "Historic" and preserved instead of encoraging that kind of development city/county wide. The notion of lack of identity is known, but will the question of "are we doing the right thing?" be asked before it becomes too late.

The more I return to visit my friends and family there, it does not feel like what used to be called home. The pace of development is so rapid that it might as well be a suburb of Orlando, it was when I was there. Might as well make the development connect. It already has near Titusville. Like many places that have developed with the advent of zoning and parking requirements - it will shift again. We just have to ask the right questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brevard has 500k now. Volusia has close to $500k. West Volusia is an Orlando suburb (Deltona et al.). Many feel that Titusville is also an Orlando suburb, with regards to commuting patterns and its vicinity to East Orlando.

I would say its a satellite city more than anything. But, as the 520 corridor fills with development while East Orlando continues to stretch east, in 10 years, I think the MSA will include all of Brevard and Volusia to make it a 6 county metro. Now, that would be 3 million people. By then, it would be 3.5 to 4M. By then, East Polk/Osceola will get larger and the cutoff for the MSA will be tougher to draw the lines. Polk might become part of the Tampa MSA by then and that and ORL might become one extended SMSA with over 6.5 million.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The population of Florida right now has to be at least 18 million. I lived there from 1988-1996 and I really didn't experience any of this growth, I lived in Lakeland which for a city of it's size and location grew pretty slowly-only about 9000 extra in about 40 sq miles. Lakeland was pretty dead, but I'm reading now it's picking up. If I had the chance to live in Florida again-and I'd like to as I only consider it and Louisiana home (my developmental years were in both states-Louisiana-childhood, Florida-teen years) I wouldn't live inland again, I'd live near the coast. My opinion is if you're going to live in Florida you're only cheating yourself if you don't live within a 10-20 minute drive to the beach.

Not only is it a matter of time until Polk joins the Tampa metro area, but Lakeland will be part of the Tampa urban area.

Anyone have an idea when Florida might slow down like Ohio? I don't see it happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that Brevard has reached this magical number, can we now say split Brevard into 2 or 3 counties? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The population of Florida right now has to be at least 18 million. I lived there from 1988-1996 and I really didn't experience any of this growth, I lived in Lakeland which for a city of it's size and location grew pretty slowly-only about 9000 extra in about 40 sq miles. Lakeland was pretty dead, but I'm reading now it's picking up. If I had the chance to live in Florida again-and I'd like to as I only consider it and Louisiana home (my developmental years were in both states-Louisiana-childhood, Florida-teen years) I wouldn't live inland again, I'd live near the coast. My opinion is if you're going to live in Florida you're only cheating yourself if you don't live within a 10-20 minute drive to the beach.

Not only is it a matter of time until Polk joins the Tampa metro area, but Lakeland will be part of the Tampa urban area.

Anyone have an idea when Florida might slow down like Ohio? I don't see it happening.

Yeah, I agree about Lakeland. Its very close to Plant City and Brandon, etc... East Polk is interesting, though, b/c the Haines City area on US 27 is closely tied into the Kissimmee/Poinciana/Davenport/Four Corners area, which is part of ORL metro. Now I-4 is widened up to US 192 (ramp improvements) from Tamp City Limits. I gather there will be an imaginary line dividing Lakeland from East Polk-- the western side going to Tampa and the eastern side to ORL.

FLA will never slow down like Ohio, IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.