Economic Yearbook 2008
TREASURE COAST: Regional Mindset
Port St. Lucie / St. Lucie County
Housing challenge (Port St. Lucie)
» Pete Hegener, president of Core Communities, developer of the 8,300-acre Tradition development in Port St. Lucie, is thinking long term. Sales at Tradition, which already has 2,000 homes occupied, have fallen from what Hegener calls the "artificial high" of 2005 but are "steady." Local real estate watchers credit him for pushing ahead with development of Core’s 4.5-mile-long commercial corridor along I-95, including two more interstate interchanges and a mall. "We should be ready in the next upturn in the economy."
Talk to St. Lucie’s Treasure Coast neighbors, and it becomes clear how much the region’s hopes depend on whether a life sciences industry breaks out in the largest county in the region. Neighbors hope to land spinoffs, supporting players and residents from St. Lucie’s investment.
» Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies President Richard Houghten expects to see his new headquarters open in December in a 120-acre research park in the Tradition development in Port St. Lucie. The state and locals anted up $90 million in incentives to land Torrey Pines. Houghten promptly recruited Oregon Health Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute as a Tradition neighbor. VGTI Florida is receiving $117.8 million in state and local incentives in return for creating 200 jobs over 10 years.
» Edwin Massey marks his 20th year as president of Indian River Community College — soon to be Indian River College. Massey is credited for his leadership in economic development. The college has launched its first bachelor’s programs in education, nursing, management, healthcare management and public safety administration. The college also has a center specializing in training workers in homeland security and defense at a new $38-million, 50-acre public safety training complex. The college’s foundation raised $11.2 million in 2005, becoming the Council for Aid to Education’s No. 1 community college foundation.
A proposed self-sustaining, 14,000-home town, The Grove, is being developed on 5,700 acres of citrus groves impacted by tristeza disease in northeastern Okeechobee County. Groundbreaking is planned in 2009. The developers are the landowner, Vero Beach-based Evans Properties, and Barron Collier Cos.