Oil, Taxes and Scrub Jays Retard
Rotonda West’s Early Growth
by Jack Alexander
In 1970, right at Rotonda West’s start-up, the U.S. economy
tanked and slowed development. Interest rates soared above
20 percent. Money for infrastructure became hard to find
and borrow. (The government wasn’t handing it out back
then!). Then, the Arabs embargoed oil shipments to America
to encourage Washington to force Israel to make concessions
in Mid East peace negotiations. The ensuing oil crisis caused
long lines at gas stations across the country. Travel to Florida
All this adversity impacted Florida’s land development and
home building, not the least Rotonda’s. Changes in the tax
code didn’t help. New regulations on treatment of passive
income curtailed Florida’s condo market. And Rotonda’s,
The free-swinging “buyer beware” period in Florida real
estate was also ending about then. Developers could no longer
sell lots like cans of beans. Authorities were more intently
scrutinizing everything developers did. Permitting became
tighter. New regulations surged into the system.
The environment was another problem for developers.“Ecology” became a new buzz word, as did “wetlands.” The
newly-found interests of eagles, scrub jays, gopher tortoises,
sea turtles and certain snakes now had to be addressed. This
retarded construction in Rotonda West. Huge changes had
to be made to Rotonda West’s biggest original development
plans, in terms of both scale, and timing.
The end result was that, in effect, oil, taxes and scrub jays
threw Rotonda West’s development off stride. It took ten
years to get back to normal.
Note: These and other details of Rotonda’s history are
chronicled in Jack Alexander’s popular book, “Rotonda: The
Vision and the Reality.” Copies are available for $6.00 at the Rotonda West Community Center, 3754 Cape Haze Drive, Rotonda West 33947, (941) 697-6788.