Plum Creek – A Balanced Look

Economics is all about the allocation of limited resources. As used here, resource has a broad definition, including anything from raw materials to intellectual capital. The efficient allocation of these various resources is the driving force behind any healthy economy. Another driving force behind any healthy economy is agglomeration.

Currently, there are two areas of significant tech growth locally. One is the area between downtown and the University of Florida campus, which includes Innovation Square, UF’s Florida Innovation Hub and the various startups downtown. The other area is scattered roughly around Interstate 75 in northern Alachua County. In a recent Gainesville Sun article, esteemed economist and professor David Denslow refers to this as a “tech barbell.” If Plum Creek were to happen, we would have a “tech triangle,” as Denslow put it.

Denslow suggests the arrival of Plum Creek would greatly enhance economic agglomeration locally. What does this mean? Agglomeration occurs when the parts of the whole are able to benefit from each other’s existence. In this way, each entity is able to accomplish more together than they would separately. Why? It all boils down to environment. With a major research university in the area, knowledge and labor easily flow – and having three hubs to flow between instead of two greatly increases economic value. Again, agglomeration is key in a growing economy.

Perhaps Plum Creek would be great for our local economy. However, economic gain is only one piece of the equation. What impact would Plum Creek have on the environment? This question raises serious concerns and is not being taken lightly by anybody. Specifically, people are concerned with water usage. Adding 60,000 acres of development to any area is sure to have water consequences. Not many are more aware of this than those at Plum Creek who are working tirelessly to ensure a sustainable environmental footprint. Plum Creek is at the forefront of developing creative ways to minimize their water usage. As evidence of this, a study conducted by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that a typical single family residence in Plum Creek might consume as little as 50 percent of those in comparable dwellings built in recent years. These are projections, and unfortunately many aren’t sold on these dazzling numbers. 

Many oppositions seem to be coming from a place of misinformation. For curious and/or concerned citizens, Envision Alachua is a great resource for information on the project. A Gainesville Chamber supported initiative by Plum Creek, Envision Alachua is dedicated to transparently transmitting information about the project. They’ve already held several public forums with more on the way. These forums seek to educate citizens on the project and to give citizens a chance to address their concerns. For information and a schedule, visit


See below for full articles about Plum Creek, or click here for more Front Street news...

Plum Creek's plan to slash water usage - The Gainesville Sun

Our chance to create a tech triangle - The Gainesville Sun

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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