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The community of Pelican Bay

Naples, Florida

Pelican Bay was created by the Community Development Group of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The award-winning master planned community received the prestigious Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence for New Community Development, citing Pelican Bay as a “model of environmentally sound community planning.”

Pelican Bay attracts residents and businesses that want to engage in an environment that is intrically tied to culture and environment. The community is authentically contextural, sustainable, respectfulful, and celebratory of its natural surroundings. The 2,100 acre master plan comprises three miles of unsurpassed Gulf-of-Mexico white sand beach backed by forested coastal dunes, a tidal estuary surrounded by mangrove forest, and a broad expanse of pine-palmetto-oak uplands. Preservation of the natural environment was the primary aesthetic and recreational amentiy of the award-winning community, with over a third of the acreage conserved as natural beach and dunes and estuary, lakes, and interconnected parklands.

These environmentally green principles are introduced in all projects in which David is involved. He pioneered eco-friendly real estate development, created new paradigms, and led the way in leaving little impact on the environment.

This natural setting of the Gulf of Mexico provides the framework for the residential community that has become an oft-cited model for sound ecological planning for people-nature compatibility and the state of the art environmental planning and design. The Pelican Bay community was developed in accordance with the comprehensive master plan that included extensive natural resource inventories that classified environmental sensitivity and recommended the zoning of development in clusters to buffer the forests, coastal dunes, and estuary. The valuable wildlife corridors are preserved and interconnected within the urban community. From the real estate perspective, open space is important for maximizing residential property values, creating an identity of natural beauty, a brand for environmental care, and a fabric for social interconnectivity, while gaining significant land value appreciation for the investors.

From an environmental perspective, unique solutions to critical problems were demanded. As example: Access to the beach was “taken away” by coastal develiopment regulations because of the environmental sensitivity of the estuary. Access was recovered by innovative elevated boardwalks constructed through the estuary mangrove forest. The elevated tramway connects recreational pavilions located at the beach to well-appointed upland stations from where bike and pedestrian pathways branch out into the 88 community neighborhoods through the green system of linked parks.

Westinghouse provided improved land, horizontal community infrastructure and the recreational amenities. Parcels were sold to qualified sub-developers for vertical construction under the rigorous design review of buildings and land improvements to preserve the local context. The community accommodates 8,600 dwelling units in 88 neighborhoods ranging from single family homes, villas, mid-rise apartments and high-rise penthouse apartments overlooking the estuary. The plan also accommodates gulf-front hotels, a golf course and the community-wide multi-modal trail system.

Preserving the environment was complex and demanding, yet the ultimate success of Pelican Bay is borne from the integration of its wealth of community amenities within nature. The result accomplished has created the most progressive, livable, successful, beautiful and functional planned community in Florida.

David Driapsa was responsible for master planning neighborhoods, the open space system, pedestrian-bicycle networks and wayfinding systems. In addition, David designed special features including bridges, parks and entry monuments. His extremely attractive and environmentally responsible design preserves existing vegetation and uses a xeriscape-based plant palette of native and naturalized species that conserves water and is easily maintained.