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Case Study: Winter Park Streetscapes

Rough, uneven paving that people are willing to pay for

By Tamara McClendon, King's English, LLC


Pavers of varying heights on Winter Park's Pennsylvania Avenue slowed traffic by an average of 10 miles per hour.
Photos Courtesy Tom Benitez, courtesy of Pine Hall Brick

The idea to rebrick the city streets of Winter Park, Fla.--an upscale city known for its mansions, lakes and fine shops just north of Orlando--began in 1996. As engineers started work on a streetscape project to restore the main street, Park Avenue, they uncovered bricks under the asphalt that were more than 80 years old.

"We wanted to bring Park Avenue back to its original glory and make it as historically accurate as possible," said Jim English, director of public works for Winter Park.

Winter Park decided to dig up the street and reclaim any usable brick that lay beneath. When the project was finished in 2000, the Park Avenue streetscape included a 10-block area with new sidewalks, landscaping and a brick street.

The street was repaved using the original brick that was underneath the asphalt and recycled brick that was purchased from the city of St. Petersburg. The brick street was such a hit with residents that they began campaigning to have their neighborhood streets repaved in recycled brick.


Pine Hall Brick manufactured the new brick pavers to complement bricks that were reclaimed from the old streets.

Demand for Uneven Streets

"The demand was so high for more brick streets that the cost was just too prohibitive for the city to undertake," English said. But residents wanted them so much that they even agreed to a "Brick Street Policy," which allows for cost sharing between the property owners and the city.

Realizing the brick streets would have a longer life than asphalt, the city now contributes what it would cost to repave in asphalt three times. The residents pay the remaining cost, which is done through property taxes as a "special assessment."

The city discovered a bonus of the brick streets--they make drivers slow down. Because the reclaimed bricks are uneven, they produce a rough sound as cars ride over them, and cause drives to reduce their speed. This has helped curb the problem of cut-through traffic from two major highways that border Winter Park.

"It's hard to believe but the uneven bricks work better than speed bumps," English said.

Even better, brick streets raised surrounding property values 15 to 20 percent.

So, Winter Park decided to begin repaving neighborhood blocks with brick pavers. Because recycled pavers are hard to come by, the city had to use some new pavers in the process. But, the new pavers were just too smooth. The city needed the recycled brick but could not find enough. When city officials were able to find harvested brick from other sources, it was prohibitively expensive.

"The recycled bricks ranged in price from $3 to $5 a piece," English said.


About 200,000 square feet--roughly a million pavers are down, with another 200,000 more square feet waiting to be installed. A side benefit of the reclaimed bricks are their unevenness, which cause drivers to reduce their speed.

The Solution

In 1999, Winter Park began purchasing pavers from Harwood Brick, a local Pine Hall Brick distributor.

Winter Park liked the durability of the street pavers but wanted something comparable in color and irregularity to the old, recycled bricks used on Park Avenue. So Harwood owner Tom Harwood suggested they go straight to the source.

"What Winter Park needed were clay pavers of various heights with a rich, dark color to match the old bricks," Harwood said. "I knew the best thing to do was to go directly to Pine Hall Brick and see if they could help us."

Pine Hall Brick considers itself an expert in making bricks that are uniform in size. "They wanted us to make bricks in varying thickness," said Fletcher Steele, president of Pine Hall Brick. "This was a new concept for us. We take great pride in making uniform brick."

Pine Hall Brick agreed to alter its manufacturing process to make the bricks irregular and worked on creating a darker colored paver to match Winter Park's harvested brick. The result was pavers that varied in thickness from 2 1/2 inches to almost 3 inches. The standard paver is 2 1/4 inches thick.

Pine Hall Brick was also able to formulate a new color to match Winter Park's old brick called Autumn. The color is now part of Pine Hall Brick's regular offerings. "But we don't offer the irregular size as part of our standard line. Winter Park is our only customer that wants that," Steele said.

To test the bricks, Pine Hall Brick installed them in an area on the Isle of Sicily, a small peninsula in Winter Park that juts into Lake Maitland. Residents of this small area agreed to pay for half of the cost of the test.

The test was a success. "We gave them a custom-made product that fit their needs well," said Ted Corvey, Pine Hall Brick's marketing director and paver business director. "At the same time, we solved a community problem by slowing down traffic."

To date, Pine Hall Brick has paved about 200,000 square feet--roughly a million pavers--in Winter Park. "And we've got about 200,000 more square feet waiting to be installed," Corvey said. "We are doing some major streets for them."


Residents on the Isle of Sicily in Winter Park attribute a significant increase in property values to the brick streets.

Trendsetters

There is now a waiting list of residents who want their neighborhood streets repaved in brick. "Winter Park commits to repaving a certain amount in these specially made brick every year," Steele said.

There are four streets scheduled to be bricked in 2004. "If the next few years are anything like these last, we should add several more miles of brick paving to the city. The typical waiting list for a neighborhood is two to three years," English said.

"It's a proprietary product and everybody in Winter Park just loves it," Harwood said.

Winter Park is not alone in its quest for brick streets. USA Today reports that because of today's cookie-cutter style of urban development, cities and towns are looking for ways to add character and charm to their communities. While Winter Park's program is one of the most extensive street restoration programs in the nation, communities all across the country are now investing in preservation by rebricking their streets.

For more information, contact Pine Hall Brick at 1-800-334-8689, www.pinehallbrick.com or americaspremierpaver.com.


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June 15, 2019, 10:34 pm PDT

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