Michael E. Arth


Yes, we know: Arth has neither money nor experience,…But keep this in mind: The guy pretty much single-handedly converted a DeLand drug slum into a legitimate neighborhood within the span of a year. His ideas are actually his own, and not only that, they’re good ideas…we’re giving ourselves permission to follow our hearts on this one.

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New Urbanist, Architect, Environmentalist, Urban Artist, Urban Philosopher & Urban Designer

Michael Arth is an American artist, urbanist, designer, policy analyst, and advocate for the homeless, futurist, documentary filmmaker, and author. He was a 2010 candidate for Governor of Florida. Also in 2010 he wrote Democracy and the Common Wealth. Arth started focusing in 1986 to home and urban design. He designed, built, and landscaped a small number of private residences in Southern California from 1986 to 2000, most notably “Casa de Lila,” a seven-story Spanish style villa integrated into a mountain ridge in the Hollywood Hills. In 1999, Arth founded a more pedestrian and ecology-oriented version of new urbanism called New Pedestrianism. His new approach calls for very compact new towns and neighborhoods where tree-shaded, pedestrian and bike lanes are in front of all residences and businesses, with tree-lined automobile streets at the rear. Having such a development built near a downtown area or newly created village center reduces the amount of travel time that would normally be spent in an automobile, thus increasing the physical activity of the homeowner and saving energy.

In more densely built new towns, he claims that this new form of housing would resulting village-like towns, vastly increase both aesthetics and quality of life. In 2000, Arth found a small slum in DeLand, Florida, where he could try out some of his ideas. Subsequently, he purchased 32 dilapidated homes and businesses, which he restored over a seven-year period. Running out the drug dealers and rebuilding the downtown neighborhood won him the support of the community and a number of awards. He changed the name of “Crack Town” to Downtown DeLand’s Historic Garden District. Arth enhanced the existing infrastructure by planting trees and by building pedestrian lanes, gardens, courtyards, and bike facilities in the district.