Former Allies At Each Others Throats


The old Forman family machine is splitting down the middle.

Two wings of the political machine founded by wily real estate mogul Hamilton Forman are squabbling. Until age caught up with him recently, Forman was one of the most powerful political figures in Broward

He gave a start to numerous insiders that are scattered through Broward’s business and political world.  

Now two guys whose careers were birthed by Forman are fighting.  Both want to build a courthouse parking garage.

The prize: Somewhere around $25 million.

On one side is William “Bill Scherer, a savvy trial lawyer and veteran political insider. He got his start when Forman, whose political base was the North Broward Hospital District, picked Scherer to be the health system’s general counsel

On the other side is John “Jack Loos, who graduated from Fort Lauderdale High with Austin Forman, Hamilton’s son. Loos, who is often involved in real estate deals with the Formans, has a long history of successful developments.

Scherer is a member of  Fort Lauderdale’s Downtown Development Authority. Loos is a past member and his partner on the garage proposal, attorney Fred Fazio, is a current member. 

Scherer and Loos are both leading Republican activists.  They now have to beg the all-Democratic and highly partisan Broward County Commission to pick them.  

Since the deadline for proposals is Tuesday, October 13, it is not expected that anyone else will make an offer.

It is strange to see these allies identifiable to everybody in Broward politics as part of the Forman machine fighting each other. 

Scherer wants to build two new levels on the existing courthouse parking garage at Southeast Sixth Street and Southeast Third Avenue. 

 He would build a new speed ramp from the street to the third floor for the added 860 spaces.  In addition, he would give back 140 spaces he now leases for his New River Village project.

Because the foundations already exist on the garage and there is no land costs, Scherer argues that his proposal will cost millions less.

He would like to use part of the new garage for Phase III of New River Village, an $80 million hotel and office complex on the river. Forman obviously taught Scherer some lessons: His New River Village Phase II condominiums sold out for $150 million.

Scherer has put together a team of political and development heavyweights:

*Granvil Tracy of American Land Ventures.  Tracy is the former president of Stiles residential development.  His firm is currently working on the rebuild of the Fountains in Plantation.

*The James A. Cummings firm, long-time developer of schools and other government projects including garages at the airport.

*Bill Bodenhamer of USA Parking, an experienced parking lot operator and a Broward political player for decades.

*Mario Cartaya, one of Broward’s best known architects and a frequent contributor to political campaigns.

 Scherer also has Republicans Jim Blosser and Justin Sayfie lobbying for him.  He threw in a Democrat — lobbyist Bernie Friedman.

Loos has teamed up with Stiles to build a garage at the site of the former Coca Cola bottling plant, Andrews Avenue and Southeast Seventh Street. 

There would be six levels containing 1,025 parking spaces, with the access primarily on Southeast First Avenue on the east side of the property.

Almost all the work is being done in-house by Stiles, which has a long history of building garages. 

Loos has hired John Milledge, general counsel of the DDA, and Ron Book to lobby for the project.

The garage is being paid out of the $328 million new courthouse project okayed earlier this year by commissioners. The winner will be decided soon, maybe before Christmas. 

But I can tell you one person who is already a winner:  political wheeler-dealer Tom McDonald.

McDonald is the owner and president of Craven Thompson & Associates, an engineering firm with numerous government contracts.

Craven Thompson is part of both teams.  McDonald can’t lose.

5 Responses to “Former Allies At Each Others Throats”

  1. Las Olas Law says:

    Whoever wins, something is needed, however neither of these locations seem the right ones.
    The line of cars backs up unto Sixth Street every Monday morning and it takes 15-20 minutes to get into the existing garage. I don’t know if that garage can take another 1,000 cars as Mr. Scherer wants without extending the waiting time by another 20 minutes.
    The other location would cause a line up of cars waiting to get into the garage along SE 7th or Andrews Avenue in rush hour.
    What about trying for another piece of property, such as the parking lot behind the courthouse or the one next to the schools building?

  2. I wonder... says:

    I wonder who Gunzburger is going to vote for? After reading her last quarter fundraising report, I can now tell the future. She’s the biggest winner out of this, not McDonald.

    She received thousands from Scherer and Blosser/Sayfie. She’s also very close with Bernie Freidman.

    Guaranteed she’ll vote for Scherer. This is an elementary lesson in wheel greasing.

  3. Another Lawyer says:

    John Milledge works for Jack Loos whiile he is general counsel of the DDA. Sounds like a conflict.

  4. Lady Law says:

    The existing parking (Scherer’s plan) is the only one connecting directly to the courthouse. If you like to get wet in the frequent rains in South Florida, build the parking garage a block and a half away.

  5. Commissioner Hoping Indictments Will Reverse Courthouse Vote : says:

    […] Read more about the parking garage deal here. […]