Coral Ridge Towers

History of Coral Ridge Towers

The Towers:1,341-unit CO-OP Complex

The four building Coral Ridge Towers complex on the Gulf mile is unique in more ways than one.
It is one of the largest apartment complexes in Fort Lauderdale, with 1342 units and four 16-story buildings.
It was built under a Federal Housing Administration program back in the 60s, unusual in view of the fact that it deals with luxury housing luxury housing.
And it is a cooperative, which is something of a rarity today in a city where condominiums dominate the apartment scene.
A cooperative is different than a condo in that one buys his share in the entire co-op , while in a condominium he buys his individual apartment and a share of only the common areas.
Cooperatives were popular in the Fort Lauderdale area during the early 60s. At that time, few people had yet heard of condominiums, which soared into the spotlight in the later part of the decade into the 70s.
Coral Ridge Towers spreads out over a large tract just to the North of Oakland Park Blvd, West of State Road A1A and east of the Intracoastal.
The first building in the complex was erected in 1961. It brought 330 apartments to the Mile.
This was followed by Coral Ridge Towers North, with 337 unity, in 1963. And a continuing demand for the spacious unity with walking distance of the ocean spurred the construction of another 16-story building, Coral Ridge Towers East, in 1965.
Although it offered the public another 338 units, bustling sales soon necessitated the construction of a new building.
Thus, the last high-rise in the complex – called Coral Ridge Towers South – was erected in 1967. It added another 337 apartments.
THE TOWERS complex was developed by Coral Ridge Properties, Inc. with the initial building going up at a time when the Galt Mile’s development was still in its infancy.
Only five oceanfront buildings existed on the mile at that time, and there was little in the way of commercial facilities.
Today, shopping facilities are just a few steps from the complex - and apartment owners in the towers have seen the value of their investments rise steadily over the years.
The financial wizardry of CRP executives such as J. P. Taravella, board chairman, Evident in the money arrangements for the towers.
Each building has a 40-year mortgage at 5.25% financed by Connecticut General Life Insurance Company.
“There is no liability on the part of any of the residents,” Taravella said. “the mortgage is in the name of the cooperative association of each building.”
“In the 1960’s you could get in with a total cost investment ranging from 1,200 for a one bedroom unit to 2,212 for a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment, and 75 per cent of the monthly charges were tax deductible.”

History of The Galt Mile and Coral Ridge Properties

Coral Ridge Properties Purchase ‘Big News”

When a 2,466 Acre tract north of Fort Lauderdale was purchase by Coral Ridge Properties, Inc., in 1953, a mile-long portion of that property – later to be known as the Galt Ocean Mile – was nothing but a barren wilderness, reached by an old swing hand operated Oakland Park Boulevard bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, which opened slowly, and was generally approached by motorists with some apprehension.
In fact, earlier that year, a truck had fallen through the bridge during an inspection of fill areas in the area by the Secretary of the Army.
But the principals of Coral Ridge, J.P. Taravella, the late James S. Hunt, and the late Stephen Calder, saw a great potential for the Galt Ocean Mile.
The 2,466 acres was purchase for $19,389,000 from Arthur T Galt, a wealthy Chicago attorney, who had owned it in the 40 years preceding 1953.
This was the largest private land transaction in the history of the United States at that time – four times more than the United States paid for all of Florida.
The transaction was unique in that the down payment ($100,000) barely represent the cost of the stamps on the document and carried a 25-year mortgage at no interest.
In 1959, Galt proposed a pre-payment plan that would credit Coral Ridge Properties with an additional 68 cents for each dollar prepaid on the mortgage, thereby giving Coral Ridge Properties $1.68 for every dollar paid on the mortgage.
At that point, Coral Ridge sold 12 percent of the company to the public in over-the-counter-stock.
The entire Galt mortgage was paid of in 1965, 13 years ahead of schedule, and a year before Coral Ridge Properties became a part of Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
Under the guidance of Taravella, who served as the chairman of the board of Coral Ridge Properties, the oceanfront Galt Ocean Mile was to eventually be the major stimulant for development all along Broward County’s oceanfront.
And, over the years, it would develop into one of the highest priced oceanfront properties in the world, earning it a reputation as the Riviera, later Venice, of America.
The one-mile-long oceanfront strip, however, may not have been destined for such a glamorous future if Galt, in the years prior, had gone along with the proposal of some investors to use the Mile for a trailer park and project type development.
Fortunately for the thousands of people who live there today, Galt turned thumbs down on the proposal.
On a subsequent visit to the Galt Ocean Mile just before he died, Galt said his confidence had been “retained and justified.”
Taravella noted that there had been very little deviation from those plans drawn up in the fifties.
And the rise in the value of the oceanfront land has been nothing short of spectacular.
Coral Ridge estimates that the Galt Mile oceanfront in valued at $15,000 per front foot today, a 15-fold increase to $90 million in 25 years.
Taravella said that sales 10 years ago brough $5,000 a front foot along the Galt Mile’s oceanfront.
And, according to land records, the area that would later be known as the Mile was worth about one dollar an acre, or about one and one-half cent per front foot, in 1885.
The Mile’s development has proven highly beneficial to Fort Lauderdale’s revenues. The apartment. Businesses and homes in the Galt Ocean Mile area pay yearly property taxes well in excess of $5.5 million – an estimated $300 million in assessed value.
The Galt Ocean Mile, of course, is far more accessible today than back in the early fifties.
The old Oakland Park Boulevard bridge, for example, gave way to progress long ago. More than 2 decades, to be more precise.
In fact, it is felt that the truck accident back in 1953 gave added impetus to Coral Ridge Properties’ efforts to obtain the present high-level four-laned bridge.
It couldn’t have been more timely, happening exactly when Taravella and the Secretary of the Army, which then had jurisdiction over the Corps of Engineers, were in a boat, inspecting fill areas in the immediate neighborhoods.
In 1953, however, there were plenty of skeptics around town who saw the Mile as little more than it was at the time – a sort of “our in the boondocks” lovers’ lane.
There were people who had faith in the strip. Though, among them was Taravella, who was given the responsibility of turning the tract in something that the area would be proud of.
It was Taravella, in fact, who- because of Galt wanted to consummate a deal immediately- drew up a contract for the Galt purchase one night, the first contract he had ever worked up himself.
Everyone involved liked it, and the acquisition was quickly consummated.
The question then was: How do we develop it and what is its best use?
A total master plan of development for the Galt Ocean Mile, which stretched from Oakland Park Boulevard north to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea between the ocean and Intracoastal, was finally conceived.
Amazingly, the artist’s rendering drawn at the time by the late Charles McKirahan, a young Fort Lauderdale architect, closely resembles what has emerged as the Galt Ocean Mile of the 1970s.
In 1954, the Mile was platted into 26 parcels each with about 200 feet on the ocean, extending back to Galt Ocean Drive, and each zoned for multi-story apartments and hotels. Rigid restrictions on setbacks, plans and construction quality were established.
The center strip running between Galt Ocean Drive and State Road A1A was designated for future commercial use – for elaborate and high-quality stores and shops. And that area west of A1A would be set aside for mor commercial development, as well as for apartments and single-family homes.

The articles and preservation of this history are in thanks to Gordon C Ickes, Fort Lauderdale and Coral Ridge Properties Historian.

Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel, Sunday, Oct. 29, 1978