The Florida State University graduate started his career as an environmental scientist for the Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee. He ended up as a project manager for Land Design South in Port St. Lucie. Then, the recession hit, and in 2009, he was laid off.
“That day I formed McCarty & Associates Land Planning and Design and have been on my own ever since,” says Mike McCarty, principal and owner of the Stuart firm. “This year will be our 10-year anniversary.”
McCarty, a seventh-generation Floridian raising his children in Stuart, would like nothing more than to celebrate the occasion with the approval of the North Osceola Street extension proposal. The proposal, which he designed pro bono as a board member of Stuart Main Street, seeks to recreate the historical development pattern of the downtown area on property he believes is underused.
Were you scared when you first opened your firm?
I always knew I wanted to own my own business by the time I was 30. I had always had the comfort and security of a salary, but when the recession hit, it was a real eye-opener. I knew that it was time, and I had no choice. I needed to control my own destiny, and I never looked back.
Why did you decide to raise the eighth generation of McCartys in Stuart?
I am not sure if it was an actual decision. I grew up in Fort Pierce and went to John Carroll High School. The character and small-town coastal living that Stuart has to offer fits us. It is just a great place to raise a family.
Tell us about the North Osceola Street extension proposal.
You probably shouldn’t have a city hall sitting on the waterfront. You probably shouldn’t have a gravel parking lot there, either. Much of downtown has turned its back on the water, and so this plan offers the opportunity to focus on that.
What do you think the chances are the proposal will be approved?
I hope the city and citizens are able to understand the potential before them. It is hard to say if it has a chance of approval and actually becoming a reality. I’d like to think it does, but numerous plans over the decades have been proposed and never ended up going anywhere. There’s always been the question of what to do with this property. I believe it will come down to political will of our council members and financing.