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Known as “the City in the Country,” Coral Springs has become a premier South Florida community, known for its abundant parks, quality schools, numerous athletic programs, and attractive neighborhoods.
Prior to its incorporation as a City in July 1963, the area that was to become Coral Springs was part of a huge tract of land acquired by Henry “Bud” Lyons between 1911 and 1939 that totaled over 20,000 acres of marshy wilderness in western Broward County. Clearing and draining the land himself, with the help of workers from the Bahamas, most of the land was used to grow beans, earning him the nickname “Titan of the Bean Patch.” Lyons died in 1952, leaving his vast land holdings to his family, who converted the land to be used for ranching, bringing in 5,000 head of cattle.
After a series of wet hurricanes had flooded much of the southern portions of the State in 1947, Florida created the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District (now the South Florida Water Management District) that built a network of canals and levees throughout South Florida. The canals helped to further drain the land that would become Coral Springs.
Similar to the land rush of the 1920s, after World War II there was another real estate boom in South Florida. Coral Ridge Properties, a land development firm, was started by James Hunt, Joseph Taravella, and Stephen Calder to develop communities in Broward County. By the late 1950s, they were running out of land to develop in the Fort Lauderdale area and were seeking opportunities further west.
Although still somewhat swampy, land in the northwest corner of the County, now owned by Lena Lyons, perfectly suited Hunt’s vision for a master-planned community. On December 14, 1961, Coral Ridge Properties purchased 3,860 acres for $1 million. They moved three wooden shacks onto the land, along with five Coral Ridge Properties employees, which made the land eligible to incorporate as a City under Florida law. The City of Coral Springs was chartered on July 10, 1963. Other names that were considered included “Curran Village,” “Pompano Springs,” and “Quartermore.” Additional land purchases from the Lyons family brought the total land in the City up to 5,000 acres.
By 1964, a master plan was developed that projected a population of more than 50,000 residents living in small neighborhoods throughout the community. On July 22, 1964 the first land sale was held in Ft. Lauderdale’s Galt Ocean Mile Hotel, selling 536 building lots for $1.6 million. Looking to give the new town a country flair, Hunt ordered the construction of the Covered Bridge that same year. It is now a Florida Heritage site.
Coral Ridge Property employees staffed the City administration, with Werner Buntemeyer holding the position of City Manager from 1964 to 1974. In 1965, Coral Ridge Properties acquired an additional 5,000 acres from Lena Lyons, increasing the area within the City to 16 square miles.
From the very beginning, Coral Ridge Properties enacted strict landscaping and sign laws designed to create a beautiful and natural looking town. In May 1965 a second land sale was held, this time in Coral Springs, with Johnny Carson on hand to help draw buyers. Johnny himself bought almost 55 acres of land. This time 1,100 lots were sold. Then the first residents began moving in, including Wilfred Neale II and Robert Fuller in The Hills in early 1965. Both became early City Commissioners.
Also in 1965, the City’s first employee was hired Police Chief Richard Vedilago who was assisted by a German Shepherd named “Sergeant Satan.”
According to Stuart McIver, in 1966, Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired Coral Ridge Properties so that they could use the new City as an “urban laboratory to evaluate new products, such as a home utility center, home sewage disposal systems, an infrared heating system, full electric kitchens, and central air-conditioning and heating systems.”