The Commons Project Remains An Expensive Gamble


Weston moms can’t wait to shop at The Commons, the planned upscale emporium planned for Interstate 75 in Davie.

Polls found that Weston women love the idea of $1,000 Manola Blahnik strappy sandals and $4,500 Brioni pinstriped suits available a short drive away.

So far the only spending that has taken place is to get The Commons approved.

The project remains a very expensive gamble for the developer.

The Commons developer has spent seven figures on lobbyists and consultant to date. That is the estimate by several insiders who worked on similar projects.

Many of these high priced consultants and lobbyists showed up at the South Florida Planning Council Monday to tout The Commons.

There was Dennis Mele. He’s Broward’s premier land use lobbyist. He argued the case for The Commons.

Blah blah blah.  Tick tock.  Tick tock.  The billable hours slid by.

On Mele’s left was Bill Laystrom, the affable Fort Lauderdale lobbyist who has made The Commons a crusade.

Laystrom once was close to Property Appraiser Lori Parrish.

Parrish is now an outspoken opponent of The Commons, which would lie within shouting distance of her ranch-style home.

Laystrom walked past Parrish at the meeting and waved hello. She gave him a stare that could freeze water.  If looks could kill, I would be writing Laystrom’s obit now.

Next to Laystrom was Ron Book, one of Florida’s top lobbyists.

Hiring Book is a major investment.  He’s a guy who wants a six-figure retainer before he opens his mouth.

Mele, Laystrom and Book — a virtual millionaire’s row.

Turnberry has gotten what they paid for. The trio has delivered to date.

The project has slowly moved forward.

But the fate of The Commons is no longer in Mele, Laystrom and Book’s hands.

It is in the hands of the Davie voters, who will decide whether to replace pro-development Mayor Tom Truex in favor of the anti-development challenger Judy Paul.

If Paul is elected, the project loses its fourth vote on the Davie Town Council.   The project needs four out of five votes to move ahead.

Book, the veteran of more than three decades of political battles, was asked what is the fall back position if Paul wins?

“Tom Truex isn’t going to lose, Book said emphatically.

Then he added: “We may always pick up a fourth vote somewhere else.

Book, always the optimist.

He knows that no one wants to pay a pessimistic lobbyist.

Yet despite Book’s optimism, the reality is more uncertain.  The upcoming election may be the last hurrah for The Commons.

If Paul is elected, Turnberry Associates would have lost its expensive bet.

And the lobbyists and consultants?  They always win…win or lose.   They will pocket millions.

5 Responses to “The Commons Project Remains An Expensive Gamble”

  1. Patty says:

    What was the outcome of the SFRPC’s discussion?

    FROM BUDDY: They approved the project. But it must come back to the SFRPC and other agencies before final approval.

  2. I Love The Commons says:

    I shivered just reading about the Lori Parrish stare – poor Laystrom. And boy am I hoping Book is right and Truex wins – he is definitely the better candidate. Don’t you all just want to get this project approved already- it would be so wonderful for the area- there are so many curve balls and such expenses being incurred as was pointed out in the article – it is best for the county and town – let’s get the restaurants and stores here asap – jobs and revenue that come along with it too! 🙂

  3. Randi says:

    Your facts are wrong. They voted to deny the land use plan amendment.

    FROM BUDDY: I left before the final vote. I based my comments to a previous writer on this story on the Sun-Sentinel website:

    Davie Commons passes another hurdle
    By Susannah Bryan | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    4:58 PM EST, February 2, 2009
    Despite concerns over traffic and compatibility, a regional planning board voted 13-1 today to send the controversial Davie Commons project to state regulators.

    The South Florida Regional Planning Council had no choice but to transmit the plans to the state after the Broward County Commission agreed to do so in December.

    But the planning board included a staff recommendation that the 152-acre project be delayed until the developer resolves concerns over traffic congestion, compatibility and access.

    The board also asked the state Department of Community Affairs to consider the wisdom of building such a sprawling project with only one way in and out. Nearly the size of Sawgrass Mills, the project would contain 1.1 million square feet of high-end retail space, 885,000 square feet of office space and a 300-room hotel.

    Here is the link:,0,956948.story

  4. Lori Parrish says:


    I waved and said hello to Bill Laystrom. I happened to think he’s a great guy. We disagree on this issue. Which has nothing to do with my respect for him as a person or a lawyer.


  5. outtawork says:

    It’s sad that you have to hire lobbyists to influence votes. I don’t care one way or the other about the Commons, but don’t the little people–you know the average joe plumber–oops, I mean voter…doesn’t he weigh in anywhere?