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.

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