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Developers continue to plan and build in areas that present a future risk; attracted by the profits. How can the dynamics change to draw developers to safer, healthier areas? Can zoning, codes and incentives change the equation?

Trillions of dollars in properties and developments along the coastal U.S. are being threatened by a warming planet, according to a groundbreaking government study released this month.

But to some developers, global warming, rising seas, strengthening storms and their respective surges are still too abstract — or even not really believable — to deter their investments in commercial properties along the coast, where the country’s most valuable real estate still lies. Even those who do agree that the Earth’s climate is changing for the worse see Americans continue to move to coastal cities, people who need places to live, work and spend.

“Nothing's changed for us,” said Songy Highroads CEO David Songy, who owns properties in vulnerable locations in Florida. “We build to code. There's local building codes. Just like if it's in Downtown Atlanta.”

Songy owns two boutique hotels in the Florida Keys — Fischer Inn Resort & Marina and Hadley House Islamorada — both of which were damaged in 2017 when Category 5 Hurricane Irma rampaged through the Keys and up the western coast of Florida. He reopened them after investing $100K per room in total repair and renovations.

Songy, who grew up along the coast in southern Louisiana, has been investing in real estate in coastal areas for 30 years. He said storms are a fact of life, and one that he accepts as a real estate investor and developer.

“We have not noticed evidence of more frequent storms in our markets. The Keys storm last year was the first big one we remember in many years,” he wrote in a follow-up email. “We have no certainty of opinions or facts about climate change, as there are too many variables.”

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