The oldest of seven children, Michael E. Arth left home at age 17 to begin a 39–year–long career in the fields of art, architecture, urban design, and policy analysis. Michael has traveled and lived in various places around the world, and spent the greater part of 20 years working as a home/landscape/urban designer and builder in California. In 2001 Michael moved with his wife Maya to DeLand, Florida and bought 32 crumbling homes and businesses in what was then known as “Cracktown.”
Today Michael, Maya, and their daughter Sophia live in his newly christened Downtown DeLand's Historic Garden District. Crime dropped precipitously, and the neighborhood is an example of how to rebuild, reuse, and recycle the decaying inner cities, while also maintaining ethnic and economic diversity. Michael's various awards include having both the City of Deland and the County of Volusia name November 12, 2002, “Michael Arth Day.”
Through his New Pedestrianism movement he also made a practical demonstration in the Garden District of how to both design and build new towns and neighborhoods. He has been a strong advocate for more effective and compassionate treatment of the homeless, the mentally disabled, and those suffering from substance abuse. His Villages for the Homeless organization explains how to end homelessness while also spending less money, improving public safety, and vastly reducing the prison population.
A large format book of his artwork, Michael E. Arth: Introspective 1972–1982, was published in 1983.
Working privately as a public policy analyst and futurist for over 15 years, Michael has been researching and writing a two-volume set of books titled The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems. Michael put these books on hold in 2010 to write [Democracy and the Common Wealth: Breaking the Stranglehold of the Special Interests.]
An award-winning feature documentary, New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, about his life and the Garden District project was released in 2008.
Click here to read endorsements for Michael E. Arth – from numerous people all across the political spectrum.
To view the other side of Michael E. Arth's campaign flyer in pdf format, please click here.
By Michael Jiloty
Hercules, the mythical Greek god, is known for having overcome incredible challenges in the face of danger and evil. But despite his courage, wisdom and resolve, it is not clear whether Hercules could have done what DeLand resident Michael Arth has done in transforming a crack haven into one of DeLand's most unique neighborhoods.
Today, what has become known as The Garden District, only recently was an urban jungle festering with drug traffic and crime. How did this metamorphosis happen? What compelled Arth to take up residence in an urban hellhole, armed only with vision and determination? The reference to Hercules is not hype. What Arth has accomplished is Herculean in every sense of the word... Continue reading
The Real Estate Journal of Volusia County, Fall 2003, Reprinted with permission.
Michael Arth's Garden District, before and after.
Before: slum with treeless, dirt parking lot filled with cars.
After: Same view four years later.
Before: In 2001, these boarded–up Cracktown hovels were slated for demolition.
After: By 2007 these buildings comprised the heart of the historic Garden District.
View of “Cracktown,” DeLand, FL
The same view of Phoenix Court after Michael's Garden District renovations
To read more about Michael Arth's renovation of “Cracktown”, and how he turned it into the “Historic Garden District” in DeLand Florida, please click here.