Port St. Lucie, FL: Digging itself out of the holes it dug

Port St. Lucie, FL has increased in population 214 percent since 1990. From 57,000 people in 1990 to over 179,000 people in 2016, the city has expanded and required a wealth of construction to keep up.

However, the city over prepared for growth before the recession. According to a 2002 New York Times article, Port St. Lucie had the fastest growing economy in Florida, and Florida had the fastest growing economy in the United States. But the Great Recession hit Port St. Lucie, FL hard, and the city blamed the economy’s downturn for its failed investments worth $220 million, mostly rooted in digital and pharma companies.

This timelapse shows immense construction, but it doesn’t show that many of these businesses went under and many of the houses were uninhibited.

For example, according to TC Palm, Port St. Lucie agreed to a $51.8 million deal to give the land for a 115,000-square-foot studio to the digital-animation company Digital Domain. The company filed for bankruptcy just nine months after moving into the city-built building in January 2012, and the city was left on the hook to repay that money. The downturn also hit home owners.

“Port St. Lucie lost 53 percent of its value in property values,” Vice Mayor Shannon Martin told TC Palm. “So basically, everything came to a grinding halt.”

In 2017, however, it is predicted that Port St. Lucie’s manufacturing industry is growing and making gains financially while employing locals. Manufacturing made up 4.8 percent of GDP in 2001 but is now contributing 6.2 percent. A report by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity shows evidence of this growth.

“This comprehensive study is a clear barometer of a healthy climate for manufacturing, but more important, it demonstrates that market conditions are highly advantageous for current and future growth, making our region very attractive to prospective new businesses,” said Pete Tesch, president of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of St. Lucie County.

The boom is also hitting the housing market: Since 2014, building permits for single-family homes have doubled. The city processed more building permits in February than it had in a decade.

Port St. Lucie is finally climbing out of the many holes the pre-Recession bulldozers left.

Timelapse of Port St. Lucie growth 1984 – 2016.

A day in South Bend

Building off of The Observer’s Scene in South Bend feature, meant to connect Notre Dame students to off-campus destinations, I created a tour meant to represent a day in the city.

The first stop is The General Deli & Cafe for a cup of coffee to fuel up for the day, then its off to Erasmus Books to explore dusty paperbacks in a unique, intimate book-browsing destination. Visit Flamingo’s Mexican Restaurant for a lunch that promises authentic, affordable tacos in a colorful setting before heading to Orbit Music to browse new and used vinyl. Render Kitchen & Bar is great dinner destination for fresh small plates to share with friends before heading to a show at Vegetable Buddies.

Notre Dame men’s basketball: Who scored what this season?

On a 13 person team, four members of Notre Dame’s men’s basketball  — Bonzie Colson (639), V.J. Beachem (522), Matt Farrell (506) and Steve Vasturi (473) — scored 2,140 of the season’s 2,783 points. Four players scored 78% of the team’s points, carrying Notre Dame in this five-person sport. The key to next year’s success will be a fifth player who can score in the 400-point category — this year’s fifth man came in at 168.

Pie-chart point break down


Scene in South Bend map

This map serves as an extension of The Observer’s “Scene in South Bend” series, meant to inspire Notre Dame students to explore interesting spots around the city. The goal of this map is to make touring South Bend accessible and engaging to students. Check out what the city has to offer, from tacos to donuts to music venues, and read The Observer’s reviews linked in each icon.

(Yellow = Food, Purple = Fun, Brown = Coffee)

South Bend Cubs Attendance

By Erin McAuliffe

The South Bend Cubs were known as the South Bend Silver Hawks until 2014. The rebranding efforts to align the team with the Chicago Cubs, its major league affiliate, were initiated by Andrew Berlin, who bought the team in 2011.

Berlin has spent $8 million since 2011 to renovate Four Winds Field. He upgraded seating and added a new team store, along with family-friendly stadium additions like a playground, waterpark and Kid’s Fun Zone.

The efforts have paid off — stadium attendance has more than tripled since 2011. The ticket sales in 2015, seen in the chart, set franchise records for the best single-season attendance. Also, a record amount of Indiana state sales tax was collected via the concessions and merchandise sold in the stadium in 2015, money that was retained to benefit the City of South Bend. The team was even named Ballpark Digest’s Team of the Year in 2015.

Team President Joe Hart, who joined the Cubs in 2012, spoke about the award with the Ballpark Digest: “South Bend is a great baseball community and the last four years have been very rewarding as we have worked hard to rebuild the franchise. We have a great owner that has a passion for baseball and deep commitment to city of South Bend and the region. This would not be possible without an experienced front office staff that believes in customer service and providing a first-class experience for our fans each and every night.”

You can view an interactive version of the SB Cubs attendance chart here.