Long before Anthony Pugliese bought 27,000 acres in Osceola County in Central Florida, he considered himself an artist and designer of sorts. Growing up in New Jersey, his childhood role models included inventor Thomas Edison and Leonardo DaVinci, men who conceived bold new ideas.
In his early career, Pugliese invented the Natural Look Pool, still available through New Jersey-based Pugliese Pools. During the harsh northern winter when the pool business slumped, the entrepreneur turned to buying and rehabbing distressed industrial properties to keep the pool employees busy.
Thirty-five years later, Pugliese, 62, is president and CEO of Pugliese Development Co. in Delray Beach, Fla., which plans to build an eco-sustainable city called Destiny. The Clinton Climate Initiative recently recognized Destiny as one of 16 urban projects that show cities can grow while striving to reduce on-site carbon emissions to near zero.
“We are zeroing in on renewable energy,” says Pugliese. “We would like to be the Silicon Valley of green technology at Destiny.” The vision is to create America's first sustainable city, attracting eco-friendly companies and environmental groups to provide “green collar” jobs from manufacturing to research and development.
The developer has signed memoranda of understanding with several technology firms. He envisions a business community with low voltage LED lighting and solar panel manufacturers, composting companies, and other firms that make existing products, like concrete and wood, better and stronger.
The projected city will include 88,000 to 100,000 residential units and 30 million sq. ft. of non-commercial space for a population of up to 250,000. The first phase, to break ground in 2011, includes up to 7 million sq. ft. of commercial space and 10,000 residential units.
Some 27,000 acres of the 41,300-acre project have been purchased for roughly $1.35 million. “Everything we do right now going forward, we pay basically out of pocket,” the developer says. Eventually, the project will use community development districts, or CDDs, to finance infrastructure. At this point, however, there is no long-term financing in place.
Planning for the infrastructure has been painstaking, with technology changing almost by the minute. Pugliese was about to contract for a 10-megawatt solar plant to produce power at $1 per kilowatt when another solar firm brought down the cost to about 40 cents per kilowatt.
An irrigation system will recycle gray water. Outlets for electric cars will be placed throughout town, and a piping system will carry fiber-optic cable technology. A proposed biomass plant could provide steam and energy.
The developer is flagging wetlands and preparing to secure Army Corps of Engineer permits.
Building your own city — as opposed to redeveloping an existing one — has its merits. “Here we can start from scratch,” say Pugliese. “We have a clean slate so we can dream and design what we want from the very beginning.”
NAMES IN THE NEWS
Ty Bennion has been promoted to vice president of development at Hines' development office at Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza in Seattle. Previously, Bennion served as project manager for the firm. He joined Hines in 1999 as assistant project manager for the IDX Tower at Fourth & Madison, where he worked in various roles.
Ellen Cook has joined Jones Lang LaSalle as senior vice president on the corporate solutions team. She will manage real estate portfolio transactions worldwide for client Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE:IRM) Previously, Cook served as account director with Cushman & Wakefield.
Dylan Taylor has joined FirstService Commercial Real Estate as president of the firm's U.S. operations, including Colliers International, FirstService Williams, PGP Valuation, MHPM Project Management and PKF Hospitality. Previously, Taylor served as president of Grubb & Ellis.
Daniel Culler has joined real estate auction house REDC as chief operating officer. He will oversee the company's new commercial real estate division. Previously, Culler served as vice president of asset management and dispositions for CT Realty Corp.