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Port St. Lucie is a city in St. Lucie County, Florida, United States. It is the most populous municipality in the county with a population of 164,603 at the 2010 census due to its rapid growth during the 2000s. In 2013, the state of Florida estimated the city's population at 171,016. Port St. Lucie forms part of a metropolitan area called the Port St. Lucie, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area that in 2013 was estimated to have 438,095 residents. As of 2015, the city had 179,413 residents, surpassing Fort Lauderdale in population.
Port St. Lucie was a largely uninhabited tract of land south of White City in the 1950s, composed of a fishing camp, a few farms and businesses near U.S. 1. In 1958, with a budget of $5, the General Development Corporation (GDC) purchased the River Park development and 40,000 acres (160 km2) along the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. In 1959, the GDC opened its first bridge over the St. Lucie River, allowing for direct automobile access to Port St. Lucie.
By February 25, 1961 there were 250 homes in the new city. GDC requested the state legislature to incorporate 70 miles (110 km), along with the River Park settlement, into the City of Port St. Lucie. River Park did not incorporate into the city at the request of its residents. Port St. Lucie became a city on April 27, 1961 with the passage of House Bill No. 953, proposed by State Representative Rupert Smith and approved by Florida Governor C. Farris Bryant.
In the early 1990s, Core Communities (CC), acquired and began planning what would become St. Lucie West. Originally, St. Lucie West was to have contained about 14,000 homes over a 20-year period on 7 square miles (18 km2). But after realizing the community's strategic position, they began developing it into more than just a residential area. CC began building business sectors and places of entertainment and leisure. That resulted in 7,000 jobs being brought to the small town, helping it into its boom during most of the early 2000s.
In 2006, CC started development of its newest community, Tradition. The community, which sits west of the Interstate 95 intersection of Gatlin Blvd., was a large cattle ranch before CC began to develop it. There they built around 13,000,000 square feet (1,200,000 m2) of commercial area, and room for over 18,000 residences. According to CC's website, Tradition is the largest fully entitled residential development area from the tip of Interstate 95 to the Canada–U.S. border. It is modeled after a 1950s-era town. According to its website, Tradition Square, the town center of the community, holds festivities year-round. It was also chosen as the site of HGTV's Green Home 2009, and one of America's best 100 communities.
In 2007, the housing market began to collapse and unemployment started to rise. As of February 2009, unemployment was at 10½ percent and in 2008, nearly 11,000 homes went into foreclosure. This prompted the county government to consider declaring itself a disaster area. Doing so would have given county administrators access to $17 million in county emergency reserve funds. That money, combined with a transportation fund and other accounts, would give St. Lucie $20 – $30 million to spend on building projects: research parks, highways and other infrastructure improvements.
In 2008, Tradition and Core Communities welcomed the Florida Center of Innovation, a research laboratory and campus, which has a building in Tradition for two biotech and life science companies, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute. This campus alone is projected to bring more than 30,000 jobs to the city of Port St. Lucie.
As of 2000, 31.6% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.8% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 2.94. As of the 2010 census the population was 61.6% non-Hispanic white, 15.6% non-Hispanic black, 0.8% Hispanic black, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian Indian, 1.5% other Asian, 0.1% Pacific Island, 0.4% non-Hispanics reporting some other race alone, 3.0% from two or more races, and 17.6% non-black Hispanics.
In 2000, the city's population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.
In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $40,509, and the median income for a family was $44,162. Males had a median income of $18,730 versus $16,702 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,059. About 15.7% of families and 17.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, 88.05% of residents spoke English as their first language, while 6.59% spoke Spanish, 1.34% spoke Italian, 1.00% spoke French, 0.60% spoke German, and 0.50% spoke Haitian Creole as their mother tongue. In total, 11.94% of the total population spoke languages other than English.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 76.7 sq mi (198.6 km2), of which 75.5 sq mi (195.6 km2) is land and 1.2 sq mi (3.0 km2) (1.50%) is water.
Port St. Lucie features a warm humid subtropical climate, falling just short of having a true tropical climate. Summers are usually hot, with high temperatures averaging in the low 90s. Winters are usually mild to warm, with average high temperatures in the 70s. The average yearly precipitation is around 53.5 in.
Port St. Lucie was hit directly by Hurricane Frances (as a Category 2 hurricane) on September 4, 2004, and by Hurricane Jeanne (as a Category 3 hurricane) on September 26, 2004. On October 24, 2005 Port St. Lucie was hit directly by Hurricane Wilma (as a Category 3 hurricane).
Port St. Lucie is served by the St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization (TPO). The TPO is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization responsible for transportation planning, programming, and financing of State and Federal Transportation Funds for the City of Port St. Lucie. The TPO is governed by a TPO Board, which is composed of elected officials, representatives from the St. Lucie County School Board, and representatives from Community Transit, a division of The Council on Aging of St. Lucie, Inc. The original bus system started out as a demand response service bus in the 1990s, it only served St. Lucie County. Soon it expanded to a fixed route system, going to predetermined locations along a route. On June 3, 2002, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) approved funding, expanding the bus service to Martin County, and became the Treasure Coast Connector.
Florida's Turnpike (State Road 91) is the only toll road in St. Lucie County, which is the northernmost place where the Turnpike and Interstate 95 run close to each other. The Turnpike has 2 exits within Port St. Lucie's city limits: Port St. Lucie Boulevard (SR 716) and Becker Road. For most of its route through St. Lucie County, the Turnpike is east of I-95. The Turnpike provides access to Orlando to the north, and Miami to the southeast.
Interstate 95 (State Road 9) is in the western portion of the city. It is 6 lanes wide (3 in each direction), and provides access to Miami and Jacksonville. Exits include exit 126 (Midway Road), exit 121 (St. Lucie West Blvd.), exit 120 (Crosstown Parkway), exit 118 (Gatlin Blvd./Tradition Pkwy.), and exit 114 (Becker Rd.).
U.S. 1 (State Road 5) almost runs parallel to Interstate 95, and runs from Key West to Jacksonville, where it crosses into Georgia at Folkston. Its route through the city extends from Lennard Road to Midway Road.
The city is home to New York Mets spring training, the St. Lucie Mets Florida State League team and the Gulf Coast League Mets rookie level team in the Gulf Coast League. All three play at First Data Field. The city also has two soccer clubs, Mako Soccer Club and Port St. Lucie Soccer Club, that field both competitive and recreational teams at several age levels. The PGA Village golf complex includes 54 holes of golf as well as a learning center and a historical center. The city also hosted the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro, the city's first ever PGA Tour event, in 2007. Port St. Lucie is also the home of the 2009 & 2011 National Champions in Pop Warner football. The 2009 Jr. Midget team went 16 - 0 en route to winning the Pop Warner National Championship at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The 2011 Jr. Peewee team went 17 - 0 in winning the National Championship.
Port St. Lucie is served by St. Lucie County Public Schools, which is a school district which serves the rest of St. Lucie County, FL. In Port St. Lucie, there are six elementary schools, seven K–8 schools, three high schools, and three post-secondary institutions. The three public high schools in Port St. Lucie are Port St. Lucie High School, St. Lucie West Centennial High School, and Treasure Coast High School. The three post-secondary institutions operated in Port St. Lucie are Indian River State College, Barry University, and Keiser University.
A fictional version of Port St. Lucie is the setting for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6: Stone Ocean.
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