County Staff Can’t Seem to Get This Multi-Million Dollar Project Right After 11 Years




The search for a new elections headquarters, already a multi-million dollar decade-long snafu by Broward County, is headed for trouble again.

Commissioners are scheduled Tuesday to ask staff to negotiate the purchase of a 104,114-square-foot former BJ’s Wholesale Club in Sunrise.  The building is hidden behind some stores on the north side of Oakland Park Boulevard just west of University Drive.

But the ownership of the BJ’s property remains in contention.  Court action will surely further delay the project, probably beyond the 2014 elections.

Apparently Continental Real Estate Companies (CREC) claimed it owned the property when it responded to a proposal from the county in 2012.  It didn’t.

Later, another company called CPAC of Oakland Sunrise took title to the property for $100, according to public records. Apparently the company that replied to the county proposal, CREC, never actually owned the property.

So the losing bidder, Sunrise Properties & Investments, which owns property in a warehouse area of Plantation off West Broward Boulevard, is suing, claiming the procurement process was unfair and violated the county’s own procedures.


Questions About Chosen Property 


One of the issues in Circuit Court is whether CREC was “responsive” as it did not and still does not own the chosen property.

At the initial magistrate hearing, the magistrate (who is hired by the County Attorney’s office), ruled that the since the Purchasing Department relied on the county attorney’s opinion as to “responsiveness.”  Deputy County Attorney Noel Pfeffer had “reviewed” the ownership and was “satisfied,” according to Brenda Billingsley, the county’s purchasing director. Regardless of whether  Pfeffer’s opinion was “right or wrong” as to who owned the property, the magistrate did not have to look beyond that decision.

CREC’s proposal was allowed to continue, the magistrate ruled.  His ruling is now being contested in court.

That’s not all.

County staffers also never vetted the real owner of the property’s financial capabilities, alleges the Sunrise Investment.

Sunrise Properties &  Investments also warned the county that they could be entering into an agreement to build the elections office with a company whose ownership is unknown. That’s because the county never received a partnership agreement, which was a prerequisite of the proposal.

There is more to this mess that could slow down the process.


More Roadblocks


It is uncertain whether the former store can be used as an elections warehouse without Sunrise’s approval,

Sunrise Properties & Investments notes that the original City of Sunrise site approval for the BJ’s store “expressly prohibits” deliveries to the site after 10 p.m.  On election nights and other nights, the supervisor’s office must make deliveries after 10 p.m. up to pre-dawn hours.

The BJ’s site is now zoned B-3, prohibiting warehouses, which the Supervisor of Elections office needs. In fact, some 75% of the projected office is designed for warehouse. Seeking an allowance for a warehouse would require another lengthy process – a special exception from the Sunrise commission, according to Sunrise investments.

The county staff contends that solving the problem of deliveries on election nights and at other times is easily solvable by discussions with the city.  The county also contends that once the property is county owned, B-3 zoning doesn’t apply, so no special exception is necessary. Sunrise Investments says this is not true, that county-owned properties still need to comply with city zoning.

If BJ’s becomes the elections headquarters, there is another serious question for Sunrise.  Does the city really want a large piece of property at one of the key commercial intersections off the tax rolls?


Elections Office Like Troubled Aquatic Complex  


All of this looks very similar to what the City of Fort Lauderdale did in approving a proposal to redevelop the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex, which the Inspector General concluded the city violated state law.

What is unbelievable is that the county staff has been unable to find a building that is free-and-clear of problems.

It’s not like the staff was rushed.  This search for a new elections headquarters has been going on 11 years.

Broward first bought a building near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport for $3.2 million in 2002.  It needed renovation, but the county never did the work.

Instead, they switched directions.

Spurred by lobbyists, a plan surfaced from political insiders Charlie Ladd and George Rahael to build the elections headquarters at their development just west of Interstate 95 along West Broward Boulevard.

Suddenly the price tag had grown to $45 million, too much even for the Broward commissioners.

The price was whittled down to $22 million, but the deal was never done. By then it was the end of the last decade.

Commissioners started looking for property again.

Now this was the heart of the real estate downturn, but for some reason the staff couldn’t find a lot of properties.  They eventually settled early this year on the BJ’s Store.

The project is priced at roughly $11 million without renovations. That price is as squishy as the assurance that the building will get done for the next election.

The County Commission needs to get involved in the process or this building won’t be ready until 2018.

13 Responses to “County Staff Can’t Seem to Get This Multi-Million Dollar Project Right After 11 Years”

  1. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Hmmm… no mention of eminent domain… the county could simply assume legal ownership of the BJ’s building, work out a “takings” compensation agreement, and proceed from there.

    The BJ’s site is centrally located and its location at a major crossroads is absolutely perfect for this purpose.

    Just buy it. Now.
    Just buy it already!!!

  2. Lori Parrish says:

    CPAC foreclosed on the previous owners. CET means Certificate of title the company who bid was not the previous owner. The $100 means only 70 cents in doc stamps were paid to record the foreclosure.

    CPAC held the mortgage.

  3. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Buddy, it looks like CREC and CPAC are basically the same thing. CREC is located at 2121 Ponce De Leon Blvd Suite 1250 in Coral Gables, FL:

    and CPAC is at exactly the same address:

    “CPAC Oakland University LLC” is probably just a part of the Continenal Real Estate Companies group.

    Sunbiz records also show them officially sharing the very same business address:

  4. you must be joking says:

    business as usual by the nine on the dais (names do not matter as the MO is ongoing) –
    lets vote by mail like Oregon
    wheres Miriam Oliphant when we need her? she was happy with the 2000 NW 65th St building we taxpayers bouth 13 years ago

  5. Alice in Wonderland says:

    Just do everything in Dr Snipes BMW. Mikki Belvedere will get all absentee ballots unsealed and deliver them sealed

  6. David Moret says:


    I am a principal of CREC and CPAC and would like to help clarify a few points. First, when the initial RLI was issued in early 2011 it was fully disclosed by CREC and well known by the County and Sunrise that the BJ’s property was being foreclosed upon and that the ultimate ownership was not yet determined. The focus of the County’s efforts in the RLI process was to evaluate the development teams including the developer, architects, engineers and general contractors. The County was ok with the fact that the exact ownership structure would be determined in Step 2 and Sunrise did not deem it to be an issue worth of concern at that point either. In July 2012, CREC principals formed a single purpose entity named CPAC Oakland University, LLC (just like Sunrise Properties did when they acquired their property)and acquired the note and then foreclosed on the BJ’s property, thereby becoming the effective owner through the CPAC entity. The bottom line is that the previously transitional nature of the ownership was fully disclosed from day 1, it was resolved in July of 2012 and was deemed satisfactory to all who evaluated it since then. Only after Sunrise was ranked second by the Evaluation Committee did they raise an issue regarding a set of facts everyone had known about since 2011. CREC and CPAC Oakland University are owned by the same controlling individuals and therefore there is no legitimate issue at question here.


    Thank you for explaining your side of the story.

  7. Broward Resident says:

    Maybe I should start responding to every solicitation the County puts out and worry about adhering to the requirements or actually even owning the product in question after I am awarded the contract. What a scam.

  8. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Here we go again. Are you going to say again Dr.Snipes how racist this commission is(you said it-made a total ass of herself because John Rodstrom yelled @ her-to bad). Her staff sucks esp. the fat one. Along w/ some of the amazons down there. Lose ballots ,then find them(according her they where never missing, because she (Snipes)found them. Witnessed this lady come in the elections off. w/ a bag full of absentee ballots, threw them in this slot, no one checked her out, the ballots etc. Same group that took my voter card away(only reason you got away w/ that is my mother was dying-would have fought “fat Freedy” all day. Oh I ‘ll get that voter card back and when I do I can’t wait to throw it in their face except Bellis might eat it. Besides this is the same Office that charged Ft.Lau almost 250 grand for one district election(Dis.2)but Dr.Snipes charged what was it Lauderdale lakes not even 70 g. She did this on purpose to make Charlotte Rodstrom looked bad because Snipes hated her husband(yes). I don’t mind her motive”right back @ you” etc, to “pay back is a bitch” just use your own money not ours. Till we see each other again “right back @ cha pretty lady….

  9. anti convicted felon robert walsh says:

    Robert Walsh once again you are showing your stupidity blaming Dr. Snipes and Fred Bellis, and calling them racist is a joke. you are upset with them because as a convicted felon you are not allowed to vote so so kiss anyones ass that you care for and get a life you idiot

  10. Alice McGill says:

    Bobbie Grace, commissioner in Dania Beach, has an office in which ballots from elections in that city are reviewed before delivery to Dr Snipes. Perhaps she could help.

  11. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Wow, can you believe this shit Dr.Snipes(your staff-once again) I never blamed fatt Freddy or Dr.snipes. She knows(Snipes) damn well I came to her ,because one of Comm.Trantalis’ overzealous supporters called me @ 3am, and left me this awfull, nasty message which I played for the authorties(yes) to be told that once we unscrampled the caller ID block that the perpetrator will state that someone else used their phone while (get this) that someone swiped their phone and drunk dialed you(I know who you are and I’m waiting for the perfect timing to lets just say waiting for the perfect timing(you know who you are). Anyhow this sicko stated that I was going to jail etc , and was going to get gang raped(really -me-). So Dr.Snipes knows this. I go down there and state what is up w/ my voter reg. card. She stated as “far as I’m concerned , your status is fine.” Then the amazons got involved. I had a hearing, they took my voter card away from me. So you don’t know what you are talking about. My mother was very sick at the time(she passed in Jan) and I should have went no where. I had the voter card, that should have been it. I should have fought it. I could have cared less about her (snipes) staff threats(yes). Oh stating to me I should be arrested and tried for (get this again) for fradently obtaining a voter card. Mean while I had just got off the phone w/ att.Doneely, who would be presses charge s against me(which pissed the amazon off even more). Donnellay-who’s reply was” don’t worry about it.” So shove it. I am not intimidated by any of you esp. Dr.Snipes crew. From the hippo down to the amazon. And this convicted felony BS. That is all you got. You don’t pay my bills, so drop dead. And lastly Snipes did call the Comm. racist, have Sunsentinal(B.Wallman) direct you to the segment she did on it. And Dr.Snipes di d deliberately charge Ft.Lau 225g to smear Mrs. rodstrom(yes).Because of this is the only reason why you are sitting @ that Dais Dean(20votes)-(and leave the cops alone)…..

  12. Ha Ha Ha says:

    The County Commission just got involved.

    They approved the purchase of the BJs site, and they want it to be open for business in time to handle the 2016 election.

  13. Alice McGill says:

    Will someone please let Lisa Duke, campaign manager and wife of mayor in Dania Beach, know the address as soon as possible? She will need to know so she can be sure the votes she turns in from dead people and felons get delivered. Thank you.