Changing of the Guard
When Stephen Johnson joined The Viera Company as a financial analyst in 1989, the community looked a lot different than it does today.
“Back then, I had to try to explain what Viera was and where it was,” Johnson said. “That’s not an issue now. People know exactly where Viera is and what it has to offer.”
Johnson believed in what couldn’t yet be seen, though, and worked his way through the ranks of the company to be named President in 2005. In just those 13 years, Johnson has seen his community grow from 14,000 to 23,500 residents.
“Our community is vibrant and growing still. It’s just a wonderful place to live and work,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s last day in his role was Aug. 31, and Todd J. Pokrywa, senior vice president of land use planning and development, assumed responsibilities on Sept. 1. Pokrywa has 23 years of land planning experience, including strategic planning roles in the master-planned community of Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
“I know that I have really big shoes to fill and I’m really honored to take on this role,” Pokrywa said. “I look forward to what’s next here and being part of it.”
Pokyrwa moved to Viera to assume his previous role with The Viera Company four years ago, with the long-term plan to take over when Johnson retired. He has since worked alongside Johnson and slowly taken over responsibilities. Having that mentorship system in place has strengthened present planning and the outlook for the future, both men say.
“I am just so grateful for Steve’s guidance. It’s an incredible legacy to build upon and I was able to really get a better feel for what it’s going to take on all levels by working alongside him these past four years,” Pokyrwa said.
Pokrywa is very familiar with master-planned communities, having worked in land planning for more than two decades. Pokrywa also has an interesting connection to Viera specifically — he wrote his graduate-school thesis on master-planned communities and spent time in Viera for research.
“I was a student at Canada’s University of Waterloo and I came down here when Viera was a new town in the early 1990s,” Pokrywa said. “To see the vision that I studied as a student transform into the reality of what Viera is today has been really spectacular. It has given me a lot of insight into what a master planned community can offer residents and surrounding areas when it’s done correctly.”
Now in its fourth and final phase of master planned growth, Viera is also home to more than 350 businesses.
“Viera has attracted major companies such as Health First Hospital along with many other top-notch medical providers, local and regional shopping venues, hotels, and many different religious organizations that come together to make Viera a place where people want to make their home,” Johnson said. “That is something I’m really proud to have helped build.”
The businesses in the area not only boost the residents, but bring in people from all over the Space Coast and state who want to shop, eat and engage with Viera companies.
“Our efforts in Viera have helped make Brevard County a more attractive place to relocate and retire. It amazes me how successful we have been to have all the businesses that have chosen Viera as their home.”
Check out this article in our DIGITAL MAGAZINE.