Coral Springs has been unique from its inception as it is one of the first truly planned cities in Florida. Just 55 years ago successful Fort Lauderdale builders, James S. Hunt and Joe Taravella of Coral Ridge Properties, had the vision to create a planned city from the ground up. Purchasing the first parcel of land from the Lions family, 3,860 acres that were once a green bean farm and cattle field. The Coral Springs pioneers wanted homes on ample lots and public buildings in a brick colonial style. They called for strict city code to maintain aesthetics. Hunt was a showman. To draw interest in the land that was sometimes considered "too far out", they constructed a covered bridge and recruited talk show host Johnny Carson for a land sale BBQ. The event was a huge success, and later Carson himself purchased an investment plot of his own. Westinghouse purchased Coral Ridge Properties in 1966. They brought modern style and innovation to Coral Springs, with top-of-the-line appliances and features that were cutting edge. Though Hunt died in 1972 and Taravella in 1978, their vision lives on with continued innovative leadership and a community dedicated to progress. The succeeding leadership that has followed has been key to achieving those efforts.
Founder, President Coral Ridge Properties (CRP)
A New York native, Joe Taravella served alongside Admiral James S. Hunt in the United States Coast Guard during WW2. Taravella became one of the three founding fathers of Coral Ridge Properties (CRP) in 1950. Stephen A. Calder severed ties with CRP in 1966. Hunt died in 1972. This left Taravella with the large task to lead Coral Ridge Properties into the next phases of development in Coral Springs and continue the vision.
Taravella was educated at Fordham and Columbia University. As a child, he was one of the original "Whiz Kids" on nationwide radio.
Former Mayor Ed Heafy described Taravella as “having a sharp, brilliant super business mind, a man who preferred to stay in the background but said if there was ever anything they needed to let him know.”
Heafy shared a perfect example of Taravella’s leadership style and generosity with an incident in the early 70's. “The first pieces of sod had just been laid at Lions Park. Using one of the fire pump trucks, a small team had arrived to water the sod late at night. A car pulled over in the outfield and the driver watched while the men sprinkled the sod.” The next day Heafy received a letter from Taravella thanking the men and soon after that about $4,000 worth of sod was delivered for the field by Taravella.
Widely known as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on land and community development including financials and environmental aspects Taravella was a much sought after Public Speaker and champion of the free enterprise system. From 1974-1978 Taravella was selected to chair the Florida Council of 100 for four years in a row. This Council advised top state executives on matters of economy, commerce, and industry.
Through his many business endeavors, Taravella befriended noteworthy individuals. His many obituaries covered by all the local papers described his funeral as having "luxury cars clogging the streets". Attendance rose to nearly 1000 at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Ft Lauderdale. Florida Governor Reubin Askew (a close personal friend), Broward Congressman-Elect Sherriff Ed Stack, Joe Robbie, Robert Kirby Chairman of Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Representatives from Coral Springs including Mayor Ed Heafy, Vice Mayor Ben Geiger and many Coral Springs residents.
Geiger said the very private man didn't want anyone to know of his illness.
When asked if he thought Taravella was proud of the progress of Cora Springs. Geiger said "He never took the time to stop and be satisfied. He was still thinking down the road for ten years. He was a man of vision, beyond the grope, he was always out in front that's what made him a leader."
Joseph Taravella passed away on Thanksgiving Day from Multiple Myeloma Cancer. He was 59 years old. Taravella had two sons Joseph Jr. in Ft Lauderdale, and Mark J, in Coral Springs.
Robert Hoffman succeeded Taravella as Coral Ridge Properties President. Hoffman was quoted after Taravella’s death by saying “He leaves with us a legacy of leadership by example. He was an innovator and a motivator and drove no one harder than he drove himself.”
J.P. Taravella High School opened in 1981 and was named for our city's founding father and leader.
Visit the City of Coral Springs Online Archive for photographs on display and details of Joe Taravella. Use the Keyword Search button, which allows you to perform a general search across multiple fields for information on Joe Taravella.
James S. Hunt
President of Coral Ridge properties, Coral Springs Founder and Visionary
Born and raised in Detroit Michigan, Hunt was a fighter pilot in World War 1 and again in WW2 earning him multiple medals for his bravery. He owned leading Chevrolet and Ford dealerships in the Midwest prior to his real estate endeavors in South Florida. As a very successful Fort Lauderdale builder which included the development of Galt Ocean Mile. Hunt would next take on his vision of a planned city reminiscent of the old south, starting from the ground up.
While most cities start as settlements, with an existing community of people. Hunt wanted a planned city. He wanted control of how his city would look and feel. He wanted a separation of city noise from residential areas. He wanted distinct entrances to his city and a big focus on aesthetics. With Fort Lauderdale already heavily built thanks in large part to Hunt, he would have to move west.
Originally, Hunt was scouting for a retirement community but would soon come to find that a community for young families is what the area demanded.
The very first school in Coral Springs consisted of a circle of portables named Coral Springs Elementary and was located on Coral Hills Drive which is now the site of the Coral Springs Medical Center. By the time a permanent school building on 35th Court opened on November 6, 1972, James S. Hunt, founder of Coral Springs, had recently died. The school was renamed after him.
Visit the City of Coral Springs Online Archive for photographs on display and details of James S. Hunt. Use the Keyword Search button, which allows you to perform a general search across multiple fields for information on James S. Hunt.