What is Eastward Ho?

Historical Background

Present and Future

Historical Background

First there were the oceanfront developments along A1A and the ocean-access neighborhoods to the west. Dixie Highway was a two-lane ribbon alongside Henry Flagler's railroad. The frequent trains brought the conveniences of the northern seaboard cities to South Florida's mostly seasonal residents. Condominiums, hotels and motels sprang from the sandy soil almost overnight. A growing service trades industry beckoned farm and industrial workers everywhere to a fresh start and a lucrative lifestyle in Florida's subtropical paradise.

In the 1950s, newcomers enjoyed the proximity of the beach from the mile-or-so wide corridor running between Miami and West Palm Beach roughly bounded by what is now the Florida East Coast (FEC) and Chesapeake Seaboard Coast (CSX) rail lines. Then, its frame or concrete and stucco houses on small lots were affordable and attractive to median income families.

As tourism grew, along with successive waves of US retirees and immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America, the service trades expanded greatly in the 1960s. Through the '70s and '80s an upwardly mobile and automobile-owning population abandoned the closeness of the urban core neighborhoods for modern, more spacious developments further west. For the most part, the core neighborhoods left behind have struggled to sustain a viable tax base and minimal quality of life.

Present and Future

Approaching the millennium, western suburban sprawl and economic downturns have worsened conditions in the eastern urban corridor. By 2020, the population in South Florida is forecast to grow to nearly 6 million people will be competing for the space and resources now claimed by 4.3 million.

The 42 member Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida made it clear in their October 1995 report that the key issues relating to urban sprawl are no longer debatable. The playing field that is now slanted toward growth in western suburbs must be leveled by providing incentives and removing disincentives in the east. What is left of the Everglades must be preserved and rehabilitated. The eastern urban core must be redeveloped without disrupting the existing quality of life in the region. Thus, the birth of the initiative: Eastward Ho!

The Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is serving as the lead agency for Eastward Ho! It has contracted with the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC) and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) to quickly gather existing records and generate an inventory of housing, businesses, infrastructure, public services, available land parcels and their permitted uses within the eastern corridor under current zoning and land use regulations. The database will be made available to developers and financiers. The Phase One study -- including the proposed boundaries of the Eastward Ho! corridor -- was completed in June, 1996.

Planners examined successful redevelopment projects in the region and, most important, obstacles to redevelopment. They have also offered a blueprint for a new form of intergovernmental coordination and partnerships that could cut through red tape, end run bureaucratic blockages and make approvals happen in record time.

Eastward Ho! is intended to be the engine to promote mixed-use development, help governments fund new and expanded infrastructure, stimulate infill development/ redevelopment, encourage moderately higher urban densities, increase varieties of housing and improve housing affordability in the tri-county region.

There is a "Let's make it happen!" spirit surrounding Eastward Ho! The SFRPC staff has solicited comments and support from elected officials, general public, other public agencies, and private sector development and financial communities. Council staff has surveyed and met with planning directors and others at 50 affected Eastward Ho! corridor local governments in the tri-county region.

Next, an educational campaign is being launched to help inform the business community, local governments, neighborhoods, media and nonprofit organizations about the initiative. Also completed is a series of regional forums on Eastward Ho! to bring about a community-based consensus on actions for incentives and an infill strategy.

Included in the Phase One study is an overview of things that have been done to encourage the revitalization of the urban corridor. Council staff has highlighted recent redevelopment projects such as Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Old School Square in Delray Beach, Harrison Street in Hollywood and Regal Trace in Fort Lauderdale, and Bayside and St. Hugh Oak Village in Miami among many others.

An assessment of other efforts and initiatives that could be coordinated with and possibly complement the Eastward Ho! Initiative are also included, such as the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, the Council's Southeast Florida Vision 2025 Project, the Army Corps of Engineers Restudy of the Central and South Florida Flood Control District, local government evaluation and appraisal efforts, the high occupancy vehicle lane project on I-95 and the South Dade Corridor Study.

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This page and all contents prepared by the South Florida Regional Planning Council.
Updated on Jan. 10, 1997