The banner was taken from an ad for Florida real estate. It held forth an irresistible offer: you can own this, be here, be these people - for ten dollars a month. That’s all it took to lock down your plot. The caption said that the people in the picture were Actual Residents of the new city, and that’s no doubt the case. But the town did not have a beach. You weren’t buying a house on the ocean.

Okay fine, but you were buying a house near the ocean. Okay, a plot near the ocean.

The ads were the work of the GDC, the General Development Corp, and you wonder: scam? Isn’t this an old cliche? If you believe that, I’ve got some land in Florida to sell you.

But they did have land in Florida to sell you.

Your reaction? If you’re my age, you encoutered them in early adolescence, in comic book ads. For some, it’s college. For most, it’s probably “Oh.” But it's an interesting time capsule. Shall we take a look?

General Development Corporation, also known as GDC, was the largest land development company in Florida. Founded in 1954 by brothers Elliot, Robert, and Frank Mackle Jr., and based in Miami, Florida, GDC established several "NEW" communities in the 1950s & 1960s, and promoted inexpensive Florida homesites worldwide.

They started advertising.

A ten-spot! Down payment on a dream. It worked.

They received hundreds then thousands of inquiries and began to buy land, plat and sell lots on a ten-year installment basis. Soon they were awash in money and expanded all over Florida ultimately buying several hundred thousand acres and starting many "new" communities.

They built eleven communities. Let’s cut to the chase:

In the late 1980s GDC's management team was accused of fraudulent home sales: this led to criminal indictments of the company leadership, and bankruptcy of GDC in 1991. Functional assets held by GDC in various cities were turned over to their respective governments thereafter.

Let’s cut to the part after the chase was over:

Subsequent to the indictments and convictions of senior management, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals exonerated the men, reversing their convictions and directing that all charges against them be dismissed.

The company is gone. The communities are still there. Sixty thousand people live there now.

The Google results returned something about "The Compound," and I was intrigued. Turns out it was a community that was planned, and never built.

The Compound, also known as Street Patterns or The Grid, is an area in southwestern Palm Bay, Florida, similar to Flagler Estates. It is a largely undeveloped area of some 200 miles (320 km) of paved road. General Development Corporation began development of the area in the 1980s, but went bankrupt in 1991; afterward, few residents ever moved in, and the streets fell into serious disrepair by the early 2000s.

Today:

The street view cameras have dutifully mapped the expanse:


Imagine the lives that were never lived in those spaces. Does it matter? They were lived somewhere else.

We are fascinated by cities that were lost. It’s not often we think of the cities that never were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wikipedia says it's a "large town." Seems a bit subjective. Fifty-thousand souls. Named for John Moore, who seems to be disappointed with it all.

Well, I don’t have enough money to buy the whole building. Can I just buy a slice?

This . . . is sad. Old, old building, with a 60s renovation, and now it’s just sitting there with its filthy awning.

What are those people doing in the corner?

Ah.

Go this way for some unspecified purpose:

Goodman’s, I’d say. Agree?

It was also Bush furniture. The glue spots mark the place where the metal or vitralite panels were stuck. The modern letters mock the whole thing.

Don’t you just want to grab the top part with your left hand and the bottom part with your right and slide them together

I’d like to be confident it was built in two stages, but there’s something about it that says maybe not.

I got a haircut just like my big sister!

OUMB, Tomb of Darkness style:

 

It’s possible this is the most faithful recreation of the old style as you’re likely to see:

There’s so much about it that seems unlikely to be old, and yet I’m sure it is.

“I have developed a fully American style that does away with the outdated vocabulary of the past, and replaces the classical pediment with a new, brave set of ideas.”

(Dies penniless)

 

Wut, as the kids say

It looks like a church, but it’s not. It’s a bizarre bit of post-modern Romanesque revival. Looks like it’ll squish everyone who cares enter.

Another post-war bank; this is the best of the batch. The middle portion is overbearing and dull, but the rest is severe and refined.

Oh, Mitchell

It’s like they stole the rotunda - the square rotunda - from some larger, more interesting 1987 building.

 

Ghost building. Can’t tell much about what was there, except that it came first and went first.

On the other side of the vacant lot:

Elsewhere: fantastic palimpsest. Almost preferable to the recreation, since it's a more honest reflection of time.

Royal Blue what?

I think I know. Took a while.

Ah, we’re one of those “restoring the ads will bring downtown back” places.

Margaret Towell King: died in 2002. Her obit has a long, long list of accomplishments, including:

Mrs. King was also the Chairman of the Board of Sun-drop Bottling Company of Concord, Inc., Past President of Sun-Drop Bottling Co., of Concord, Inc

Don’t get me wrong, I love them - but there’s always something that seems a bit off.

Inadvertant Interesting Shot of the week:

Finally: yes!

 

No place better on a summer night.

   

 
   

 

That'll do. Did you make it this far? You're not done: Motels await!

 

 

 
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