In Transit

By Hannah Wallace July 31, 2008

For decades Joel Freedman of Freedman Consulting & Development has been a go-to guy for land owners and developers (he did the DRI for Sarasota Square Mall), but one of his first jobs was managing a bus system in Idaho. His current projects include the proposed Publix at the former site of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the remodel of the Sarasota Yacht Club and two projects for the Community Housing Trust.

“I have a master’s degree from Texas A&M University in urban and regional planning with a specialization in transportation planning. I took a job with the Ada County Regional Planning Agency in Idaho; my role was to do the long range transportation plan. I was frustrated with working in the public sector when I met the [private sector] operator of the mass transit system, who offered me a job as the assistant general manager at Boise Urban Stages or BUS. That was in 1980.

“It was an interesting transition. I’m very interested in mass transit and instead of complaining about it, I thought, ‘See if you can find a system that works.’

“The most frustrating thing about the transit job was trying to create a system that would actually serve the needs of the people who normally drive cars. It’s almost like a game: ‘What can we do to improve our system for our riders? Change routes, lower rates, increase rates?’

“I moved to Sarasota in 1983 and opened my own consulting firm. The weather was a factor, but I knew Florida was a leader in planning, and there was a lot of growth and opportunity. Of course, being a planner, I did an analysis of all the Florida coastal cities, and Sarasota came in No. 1 for cultural activities, fishing—I love to fish—outdoor activities and planning.

“I think what I did in Idaho and what I do here all fits together. I specialize in redevelopment and infill, and I’m trying to do things that create better land use. The suburban sprawl model definitely isn’t going to work for mass transit. We must increase density and intensity so that some day in the future when my three-and-a-half-year-old son grows up he will have options for transportation other than the automobile. I am a member of the citizen’s advisory committee of TBARTA [Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority], so I’ll be working on that.” —Jennifer Kaye

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