Start Of Construction Underway At Newfield
Five years after Knight Kiplinger presented his vision for Newfield to the citizens of Martin County, and more than a year after the county commissioners approved the Master Site Plan for Phase 1, construction work began last fall and is moving forward.
But don’t go looking for new houses yet, because the early work is almost invisible–the laying of pipes for public water and sewer, fire hydrants, conduit for telecommunications lines, etc. Then comes the creation of stormwater retention lakes, waterways, grading for the town center, and the laying out of streets, blocks and village greens.
“I’m pleased that so many local folks are enthusiastic about Newfield and impatient for it to get underway,” Kiplinger says. “But I remind them of how long it takes to build a high-quality new town–not just the government review and approvals, but the careful design and engineering of the community. And after homebuilding begins, it will be a gradual, decade-long build-out.” The utility work is the first, vital infrastructure for a new town, and it’s progressing west along Citrus Boulevard, from Citrus Grove Elementary and Park, almost two miles to where the town center will start to grow next year. After the utility trenches were filled and sodded over, the only indication of completed work are the new yellow fire hydrants of Martin County Utilities.
Following plans done by Shaun MacKenzie of MacKenzie Engineering and Planning, Inc., of Palm City, the work is being performed by Felix Associates of Stuart, one of numerous regional contractors that bid on the Newfield infrastructure. “We were pleased to select Felix for several reasons,” said Knight Kiplinger. “They have a great reputation, are local, and were able to assure us they could get the piping, which is in short supply during this national construction boom.”
The utility work, in the broad right of way of Citrus Boulevard, is not disturbing the current agricultural operations of Newfield, some of which will continue after the new town is built, since agriculture will be a key component of the Kiplinger vision.
Tommy Smith’s herd of cattle are watching the work along Citrus, where pastures will remain at Citrus and Boat Ramp Avenue as part of the Newfield Master Plan and its 2,000+ acres of open space (some 70% of the total acreage). Farmer John Long, of Agri-Gators, Inc. who grows potatoes on leased land at Newfield, will complete this winter growing season before his acreage is reduced next year by grading for the town center.
Kiplinger and Commissioner Ed Ciampi, whose Palm City district will include Newfield, recently spoke to Jon Shainman of Channel 5 WPTV (NBC in West Palm Beach) about the start of construction. (Construction moving forward on Newfield development in Martin County (wptv.com)) During the interview, a curious alligator did some sunbathing along one of the current ag canals.
Almost all of the new town will arise on former farmland north of Citrus, not on the natural lands–slash pines, saw palmettos, sabal palms and prairie–south of the boulevard, which will be preserved forever (and traversed by trails) in the Kiplinger Conservancy. In the far northwest corner of the Conservancy, there will be a gopher tortoise sanctuary where tortoises removed from other development projects will be relocated.
After the utilities are completed shortly, work will begin on creating a network of waterways–connected lakes and canals for visual beauty, recreation, and stormwater retention during rainy seasons. The fill from digging the waterways will raise the level of the new town center a few feet. The first of these lakes will be north of Citrus, and some will eventually be dug on part of the open land south of Citrus, across from the new town.
While all of this is going on, Knight and his team are advancing the design of new county playing fields and the look of the town center, with its mix of various housing types and neighborhood retail.
For the economic vitality of Martin County, there is considerable market interest in Newfield’s light-industrial land that lies along the Florida Turnpike, called Martin Enterprise Park. It will be attractive to a variety of employers and their business needs, ranging from warehouse space to research & development and light manufacturing.