About Port Saint Lucie
Port St. Lucie was a largely uninhabited tract of land south of White City in the 1950s, composed of a fishing camp, a few farms and businesses near US 1. In 1958, with a budget of $50 million, the General Development Corporation (GDC) purchased the River Park development and 40,000 acres (160 km2) along the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. In 1959, the GDC opened its first bridge over the St. Lucie River, allowing for direct automobile access to Port St. Lucie.
By February 25, 1961 there were 250 homes in the new city. GDC requested the state legislature to incorporate 70 miles (110 km), along with the River Park settlement, into the City of Port St. Lucie. River Park did not incorporate into the city at the request of its residents. Port St. Lucie became a city on April 27, 1961 with the passage of House Bill No. 953, proposed by State Representative Rupert Smith and approved by Florida Governor C. Farris Bryant.
In the early 1990s, Core Communities (CC), acquired and began planning what would become St. Lucie West. Originally, St. Lucie West was to have contained about 14,000 homes over a 20-year period on 7 square miles (18 km2). But after realizing the community’s strategic position, they began developing it into more than just a residential area. CC began building business sectors and places of entertainment and leisure. That resulted in 7,000 jobs being brought to the small town, helping it into its boom during most of the early 2000s.
In 2006, CC started development of its newest community, Tradition. The community, which sits west of the Interstate 95 intersection of Gatlin Blvd., was a large cattle ranch before CC began to develop it. There they built around 13,000,000 square feet (1,200,000 m2) of commercial area, and room for over 18,000 residences. According to CC’s website, Tradition is the largest fully entitled residential development area from the tip of Interstate 95 to the Canada–U.S. border. It is modeled after a 1950s-era town. According to its website, Tradition Square, the town center of the community, holds festivities year-round. It was also chosen as the site of HGTV’s Green Home 2009, and one of America’s best 100 communities.
In 2007, the housing market began to collapse and unemployment started to rise. As of February 2009, unemployment was at 10½ percent and in 2008, nearly 11,000 homes went into foreclosure. This prompted the county government to consider declaring itself a disaster area. Doing so would have given county administrators access to $17 million in county emergency reserve funds. That money, combined with a transportation fund and other accounts, would give St. Lucie $20 – $30 million to spend on building projects: research parks, highways and other infrastructure improvements.
In 2008, Tradition and Core Communities welcomed the Florida Center of Innovation, a research laboratory and campus, which has a building in Tradition for two biotech and life science companies, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute. This campus alone is projected to bring more than 30,000 jobs to the city of Port St. Lucie.