Co-developer of Haile, Bob Kramer, dead at 67


Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:13 a.m.

Colleagues called developer and architect Bob Kramer, who created Gainesville's largest residential development in Haile Plantation and one of the foremost examples of new urbanism with his planning and design of the Haile Village Center, a very quiet and humble man.

Kramer died Aug. 25 at 67 at a hospice facility near his summer home in Fairhaven, Mass., after a brief illness. A memorial Mass was held Tuesday in Fairhaven, and plans are in the works for a local service at a later date.

Haile Plantation was the vision of Kramer and partner Matthew Kaskel, architects practicing in Miami who wanted to create a new urbanist community based on pre-World War II traditional neighborhood design. Their design incorporated a mixture of homes at various price points around a town center, with apartments on top of offices and retail businesses, and neighborhoods connected by trails and public spaces to bring people together.

Development started in 1980, and Haile Plantation now has 2,700 homes on 1,700 acres.

Kramer hired Realtor Bob Rowe to conduct a market study and handle marketing, then brought him on as a partner to handle development work in 1981 to build the infrastructure and the golf and country club.

"He was one of the few people that changed the course of my life," Rowe, now of Ponte Vedra Beach, said of Kramer.

Rowe said Kramer had a rare talent for creating environments where people want to be through his attention to how land development and buildings impacted people and created opportunities for social interaction.

"What was most important to Bob was a pedestrian trail system because he wanted to tie the various neighborhoods together," he said.

Land-use attorney David Coffey partnered with Kramer on several developments, calling him a mentor and an inspiration.

"He inspired me to pursue the mixed-use urban form as the preferred pattern of development. That's what I've dedicated my professional career to," he said.

Coffey credited Kramer's pursuit of the mixed-use Haile Village Center with helping change local government land-use regulations.

"The type of place he wanted to create starting back in the 1970s of mixed-use, traditional town, it was illegal to do that. The only way to be allowed was to get special permission from the government," Coffey said. "Today it's by far the preferred pattern of development."

Visitors from Japan, South America and Australia and from all around the U.S. used to take walking tours of the Haile Village Center for ideas to take back to their communities, Coffey said.

It was a regular stop of new urbanist tours of Florida, according to Charles Bohl, of the University of Miami School of Architecture and the Congress for the New Urbanism Florida Chapter. The Haile Village Center was selected as one of four "Legacy Projects" in the CNU Guidebook to Florida.

Kramer also helped develop and design the Townsend mixed-use development, which stretches from Northwest 39th Avenue to Glen Springs Road, and the Anchor Cove waterfront residential community in Cedar Key. He also planned the Tower 24 project at Tower Road and Southwest 24th Avenue.

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