Thursday, March 16, 2017


On our last day at Knight's Key, we got to talking with one of the long term RV'ers there and learned that the place had been sold. A search on the web turned up some information. You can read a pretty snarky article here from the  Miami New Times.  Apparently, the 24 acre campsite sold for $ 24.5 million to a developer to build a 199 unit resort. (A million dollars an acre!) Why 199 units? Because by Marathon Key zoning law, 199 "transient" units are 199 units, whether they are RV sites or luxury rooms.

There are many issues associated with development, but I just want to mention a few. Camping in the Keys is very hard to find, unless you make reservation long in advance. It is also very expensive, $100+ per night. Knight's Key was one of the last, old style, privately owned resorts with large sites and even a tent area.

Our rig looks tiny compared to the typical large rigs most folks down there used.
A look at the spaciousness of the campground
 As you can see, our rig is relatively small, which means we have the option of using the smaller state park sites. Many of the state parks we visited would not even be able to accommodate the bigger rigs. While campgrounds are expensive, I bet a luxury resort will be even more so, Mr Singh, the developer (originally from MA, by the way), plans  a "low density" development. However, instead of planting one of Florida's 11 or so native palm species, he plans extensive landscaping with non-native coconut palms. This was prevalent all through Florida - the continual push to make it look like a Caribbean Island, by using non-native species.

We have seen this trend to wards bigger and more expensive development all over the keys:

a old-fashioned house

Adjacent new development

Development of duplex condos advertised at starting around $600K for each half.

Who knows what something like this house would cost.

It seems that the character of the Keys, and indeed much of coastal FL is changing. Compared to our last visit 25 years ago, it is much more a rich person's place, much of the native landscape is being remade to reflect someones idea of a tropical paradise, and new subdivisions are slowly eating up the last open spaces.  KInd of depressing.

All across Florida, we saw many developments that were "55 and Older," designed to target retirees with nest eggs.  In a recent issue of the AARP magazine, they had a piece talking about some of these planned retirement communities.  One issue they brought up was that the communities were designed for retirees with old-style "defined benefit" retirement plans.  If you don't know, in a defined benefit plan, the employer pays the retiree a fixed portion of his or her salary for life.   With the trend toward individually funded retirement plans (typically much less funded and generous), experts expect that fewer retirees will be able to afford to live in these communities in the future.  So, there's some question of what happens in 20 or so years, when this group of funded baby boomers leave us, and there's no one to live in these communities.

Development across the South is, of course, not limited to Florida. Here are a few pictures  of a road we remember as a sleepy, two lane highway, now leading out to new subdivisions. Notice how wet and swampy the land originally is.

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