Plum Creek's 'Envision Alachua' project in Florida's Alachua County, which took a stakeholder-involved approach to long-range master planning, could be model for rest of the state, says real estate director

LOS ANGELES , November 13, 2013 () – An innovative approach to long-range master planning in Florida’s Alachua County by Plum Creek Timber Co. could become a model for the rest of the state, according to a company official, FloridaTrend reported on Nov. 13.

Seattle-based Plum Creek, a Real Estate Investment Trust, real estate developer and a major landowner U.S.-wide, owns 448,000 acres in Florida, with 95,000 acres in conservation. In Alachua County, the company owns 65,000 acres, undeveloped and mostly leased to hunters, the article noted.

Eight years ago, aware the company would not leave the land undeveloped indefinitely, Alachua County officials asked Plum Creek what its plans were.

In response, Plum Creek took an unusual approach. Rather than put together a development plan before garnering stakeholder support, the company went to the stakeholders first, creating a task force in 2011, FloridaTrend reported.

The 29-person task force of community and state leaders, environmental groups and east Alachua County representatives was named “Envision Alachua,” and Plum Creek has worked with the group since then, holding meetings, consultations, and site visits among other activities.

Envision Alachua task force member Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon, said Plum Creek was “looking for community consensus” before presenting anything to regulators, and was “reasonably receptive”.

By the end of last year, Envision Alachua settled on a 50-year preliminary development plan with a 10,000-acre area between Gainesville and Hawthorne at its center. About 10,000 homes will be built in a corridor for high-tech manufacturing and agribusinesses, with land under conservation easement expected to grow to 46,000 acres from Alachua County’s current 24,000 acres currently under conservation, FloridaTend reported.

Plum Creek’s Senior Director Real Estate in Florida Todd Powell does not expect ground to be broken on the development for at least two years, but he noted that “Envision Alachua” could potentially “be a model for the rest of the state.”

The primary source of this article is, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nov. 13, 2013.

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