Kiplinger’s Pineland Prairie takes step forward as Martin County’s next big development

Kiplinger’s Pineland Prairie takes step forward as Martin County’s next big development

TCPALM (September 21, 2017), Lisa Broadt

MARTIN COUNTY — Development of a community roughly the size of Hobe Sound is about to take a major step forward.

Property owner Knight Kiplinger next week will submit to the county plans for Pineland Prairie, his proposed 5.3-square mile, mixed-use community.

Pineland Prairie’s design emulates towns from an earlier time, ones that were walkable, with shopping and offices nearby, and that today are intended to appeal to young people.

Neighborhoods there would have a variety housing types, many with front porches, and most nestled close to the street, according to the vision outlined by Kiplinger, editor-in-chief and president of Kiplinger Washington Editors.

“It’s going to require people to look at housing differently,” Kiplinger said Thursday. “I hope it raises the bar.”

The community would be built on the Kiplinger family’s 3,375 acres west of Palm City, between Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 95.

A mix of about 4,200 residential units, 230,000 square feet of retail space, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and about 300 acres of light industrial would occupy about 30 percent of the property, according to Kiplinger’s plans.

Most of the currently undeveloped land, though, would remain undeveloped.

About 70 percent, or 2,400 acres, would be set aside for open, public preserve, as well as farm land, sports fields, playgrounds and parks, according to the plans.

Kiplinger acknowledged that major development in growth-shy Martin County could pose challenges, but he said he is hopeful his proposal will be well received by the county.

People who have seen the plans, he said, “have never seen so detailed a plan, one so fully realized.”

Over the past few months, Kiplinger has embarked on an outreach campaign to tell the community about Pineland Prairie, answer questions and solicit input.

On Wednesday, at an event at Ground Floor Farm in downtown Stuart, Kiplinger unveiled to the public a more detailed proposal.

Martin County conservationist and former Sewall’s Point Mayor Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch was one of about 70 people in attendance.

Thurlow-Lippisch on Thursday said it will be “fascinating” to watch the project play out.

“We haven’t seen anything this big in Martin County in a long time,” she said. “On an ecological level, I trust Mr. Kiplinger really has a vision here and wants to leave some walkable nature” for future generations.

The development must proceed with caution, though, Thurlow-Lippisch said.

“It’s a big step, so I think anybody, no matter what, has to be diligent in looking at everything, and not just jumping into it before we know everything bout it,” she said. “Nonetheless, I have to say I’m very impressed.”

Kiplinger on Thursday said he is serious about preserving the land.

He plans to sever development rights and put easements on the land that would protect it in perpetuity, he said. The preserve likely would be managed by a board of trustees, Kiplinger said.

He also is committed to making the community affordable to a range of people. He envisions a mix of housing, with mansions next door to more smaller, more affordable homes, he said.

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