Chairman, emmer group
Personal and Family
Born April 5, 1928. Raised and schooled in Dade County, Florida. Graduated Miami Beach High School, June, 1945 and Georgia Tech, June 1949; B.S. in Civil Engineering. Served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1950-1952, as the Chief Computer of an engineering battalion mapping the Philippine Islands. Married to Barbara (nee Lazarus) since 1956. Children: Jodi, born 1959; Robert, born 1960; Lori, born 1965.
Employment and Business Background
Employed by Taylor Construction Co. during summers of college years, then for one year before, and another year after military. In order to learn the real estate financing business, worked for a large mortgage company (now defunct) in the Miami-Palm Beach area in 1953-1954.
Established Emmer and Company (not incorporated) as a small volume homebuilder in the Miami area from 1954-1960, then moved to Gainesville and established Emmer Development Corp. which is a privately held company with activities throughout Florida. The company maintains its main office in Gainesville with other offices currently in Ocala, Pensacola, Ormond-by-the-Sea and Seminole County. The company is primarily engaged in the business of land development, home and apartment building and management of apartment projects and in the past was one of the nation’s largest developers of Turnkey housing programs.
Emmer Development Corp.
From its founding in Miami in 1954 as Emmer and Company (not incorporated) as a small volume home builder, to its current position as one of North Central Florida’s larger diversified home and apartment building, land development and real estate management companies, Emmer Development Corp. (EDC) has developed land and built more than 8,000 housing units in more than 90 single family and many apartment communities throughout Florida, from low cost to luxurious.
Operations have not been restricted to the Gainesville area. Single-family and multifamily developments have taken place in a total of 15 Florida counties, including Alachua, Broward, Collier, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Hillsboro, Marion, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, Suwannee and Volusia. The developments have ranged from single-family starter homes to high priced luxury homes, from HUD turnkey housing to luxury apartments.
In Escambia County, the company has been in business since 1971. The company developed land and built more than 400 homes in Lincoln Park, Harbour Square and Sugar Creek. Apartment communities built during this period include Sutton Place (now known as Sunrise) in 1971, the Moorings in 1973, and the Pensacola Fountains in 1974. An addition to the Pensacola Fountains was completed in 2000.
In 1985, development of a 600-unit retirement community was begun in Ocala, Florida, and construction was completed in 1999. Emmer Management Corp. managed the Home Owner’s Association until voluntarily resigning this position in mid-2006.
Recently completed developments include Capri, a 291-unit single-family housing subdivision featuring an amenity-packed lifestyle community and Villas on the Lake, a 12-unit subdivision on a remainder parcel of land in Gainesville, Florida. All homes in both communities were sold and construction completed in early 2003. In 2001, a 240-unit apartment development in Seminole County adjacent to the University of Central Florida and a 108-unit addition to Stoneridge Apartments in Gainesville were finished.
Begun in 2003 and currently under development is Sorrento, a 259-unit single-family residential development in Gainesville. During two years of development, almost 200 homes have been sold. Begun in 2004, Portofino is a single family community of 98 homes in southwest Gainesville. About half the units have been sold since inception.
In Ormond by the Sea, construction of Capriana a 9-story, 34 unit oceanfront condominium was completed in July 2006. Twenty-five of the 34 units have been sold and closed.
On a nearby parcel that once housed the Ocean Village Camper Resort, construction will start in 2008 on a development of 38 single family homes. The site is also approved for 60 oceanfront condo units. With an attempt to preserve historic treasures; EDC restored a World War II Watchtower that was used by Civil Defense volunteers to spot enemy submarines during the WWII. This landmark has been designated as a national treasure and Emmer was cited by the State of Florida for its preservation.
Land was purchased for a residential development in Lake County in 2005. When complete, there will be about 600 units in this development. Focus will be directed to a broad market as opposed to much of the housing for seniors only in this general area. Development is planned for the day following a major change in the housing crisis.
Business and Professional Affiliations
Active in local, state and national affairs of the National Association of Home Builders, having served in each chair of the Home Builders Association of Gainesville and as President in 1966. Have been a National Chairman or Vice Chairman of various committees on 10 different occasions and in 1985 served as Chairman of the policy advising Resolutions Committee. I have been a life member of the Board of Directors of NAHB since 1970. Served on the prestigious Executive Committee in 1971, 1985 and 1990 and served on the Budget Committee, 1994-1996.
Served as an original member of the City of Gainesville’s Housing Board (mid 60’s), a member of the Advisory Board on Housing of the Urban League (early 60’s) and have been active in other public and industry organizations affiliated with housing.
Have been a member of the Board of Directors of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce for four years and served as President in 1984. I was a member of the Committee of 100. During 1984, presided over the “Town and Gown” Committee, an informal group composed of leaders of the community and University engaged in solving mutual problems.
Served as President in 1980 and previously as a six year Board Member of Friends of Five, the advisory and fund raising arm of Gainesville’s distinguished public television station which, during that period, set high performance records in every way in which public television stations are judged: fund raising, citizen participation, quality of programming and Nielsen ratings; had served continuously as the Lay Representative of this station to the Public Broadcasting Service since 1980 and finally retired from this position in 2001.
I have also served in the past as a Board Member of the University Gallery Guild, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, and Pro Arte Musica, a local classical music organization and on an Advisory Committee to the Fine Arts Council of Florida, an appointment made by the Secretary of State.
In 1981, was selected as a founding Board Member of Crime-TRAC, an organization engaged in aiding area police departments in apprehending criminals through television reenactment of crimes. Enjoy charter membership on the University of Florida President’s Council. Since 1981, I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville. Was elected to the charter Board of Directors of the Girls Club of Alachua County in 1982.
In 1982, I received an appointment by the Secretary of State of Florida to the Florida Arts Council for a four-year term. This gave me an opportunity to better understand the distribution of funds to the various arts in Florida. What I learned from this is that more often than not, the members favored organizations in their own district, whether the recipient was good or mediocre. I tried, probably with little success to change this bias. I also encouraged local arts organizations to depend on local resources rather than state funding and set some examples by tapping local sources for local arts.
In January 1983, was selected by the Alachua County School Board to chair a Citizens Task Force whose duty it was to recommend criteria for school attendance areas and future zoning plans. The task was completed and recommendations adopted by the School Board.
In 1983, was elected as a Charter Member of the Board of Overseers of the Health Science Center of the University of Florida and continued as a Member of this Board until it was dissolved in 2001. The purpose of this board was to consult with members of the Medical Center concerning policies of this institution and to aid in fund raising programs, specifically for large new additions to the Health Science Center. In 1989, was elected Vice-Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the nominating committee, and from 1991-1993, Chairman of the Board.
In 1986, was elected to serve on a statewide Professional Advisory Committee of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Architecture, University of Florida and continue to serve.
In 1989, was requested to serve on the Corporate and Foundation Gifts Committee of the University of Florida Embrace Excellence drive.
In 1991, was elected to a two year term on the University of Florida Foundation, the arm of the University involved primarily in fund raising and investing endowment funds and was reelected in 1993 and again in 1997 to four year terms, the maximum permitted by the foundation.
In 1997, was appointed by the Alachua County Commission to the Transportation Funding Advisory Committee, whose role it was to suggest more and/or better methods of increasing funding for roads and transportation throughout Alachua County. As is often the case, after a year of hard work, diligent research and good recommendations, nothing happened.
In 1999, was appointed by the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce to serve on a Concurrency Mitigation Committee to help resolve the crisis in development restrictions because of inadequate level of service along major Gainesville area roadways. Once again, nothing happened.
In 1999, was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the University of Florida Tissue Bank as the representative of the University of Florida College of Medicine. The Tissue Bank, established in 1982, is a non-profit multi-tissue transplantation service to help meet the transplant needs across the nation for these rare, but vital body parts. The Tissue Bank seeks donors and recovers, processes, stores and ships tissues which promote the regeneration of human bone and soft tissues. This Board was eliminated in 2001 when the structure of the Tissue Bank changed, as a result of Board recommendations that I vigorously supported.
In 2002 was asked to form and chair a committee to reestablish the financial viability of B’nai Israel Synagogue, an institution established in 1928. The job was completed in August 2002 and recommendations were made to the Board, some of which were adopted.
In 2002 was elected to a 3-year term on the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO). The MTPO is composed of all City of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissioners. Its responsibility is to develop and implement programs relating to roads, mass transit and associated issues in Alachua County. The 12-member CAC in the past has been an influential committee whose advice is carefully considered by the voting members.
In 2004, was selected as a member of the Alachua County Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee on County Finances. The purpose of this citizen’s committee was to study and recommend changes to the annual budget and procedures for development thereof. Once again, a disappointing appointment and minimal results.
In 2004, was asked to serve as a board member of the Gainesville Community Foundation. This is a philanthropic organization that supports charitable giving from its members and others with the intent of using large contributions in support of local organizations. The beneficiaries are generally involved in educational, medical and artistic endeavors. This Board has becoming increasingly active and is the recipient of significant funding on a long term basis from royalties of Gatorade and a number of other individuals foundations and organizations. While still a relatively young organization, the prospects for success are significant.
In 2006, I was asked to be on an Advisory Board to help in the continuation and development of a Sports Park whose public purpose is to make up for the extremely limited public park system that includes competitive quality ball fields and other facilities in the community. The Advisory Board is composed of ten members and I assume future goals will be to improve and expand the facilities of the park.
In 2006, was asked to serve on the Steering Committee of Success By Six, an offshoot of United Way, whose sole purpose is to develop strategies and put them into action to improve early learning skills of children, generally from single parent families, starting as early as age 2 or 3 and develop skills necessary for a successful transition to public schools in which the goal is to eliminate problems inherent with school dropouts, crime, poverty and other societal issues. Because of many other requirements, this program is just getting off the ground and is moderately successful. I chose not to continue on the Steering Committee.
In 2006 was asked to be a member of the Leadership Gift Council of the University of Florida Foundation, which is currently undergoing a campaign to raise 1.5 billion dollars for its endowment programs. The campaign, now beginning its public phase has raised over 500 million dollars toward its new goal of 1.5 billion. This has been a well handled campaign.
In 2007, was asked to serve on the Advisory Committee of The Reform Institute, an organization whose original bipartisan Honorary Chairs were Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey. Their moderate policies on major issues including Climate & Energy; Homeland & National Security; Governance & Election Reform; Economic Opportunity & Competitiveness; and Immigration Reform & Advancement of New Americans are very much in line with my beliefs. I am especially pleased to join this group of prominent and thoughtful Americans.
Awards, Honors and Recognitions
The first recipient in 1963 of the Dick Hughes Low Income Housing Award, an honor made by NAHB to recognize an individual devoted to housing for low-income families.
Selected as “Top Performer of the Year” by House and Home magazine in 1964.
In 1965, received the Boy’s Club “Outstanding Community Service Award”.
In 1981, was selected as an Honorary National Alumnus of the University of Florida.
In 1982, the Emmer Group was cited as one of the largest building companies in the U.S. by Professional Builder magazine. The company continued as one of these “Housing Giants” until 1987.
In 1983, was elected an Honorary Member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honor fraternity of the University Of Florida College of Business Administration.
Also in 1983, elected as an Honorary Member of Florida Blue Key, a prestigious society whose members are chosen for their service to the University.
In 1984, the Gainesville Sun named Phil Emmer the third “Most Influential” person in Gainesville based on a survey of community leaders.
In 1984 and 1985, The Emmer Group was cited as one of the largest privately held businesses in Florida by Florida Trend magazine.
In 1984, was selected as the nominee for the HBA of Gainesville as Florida’s “Builder of the Year.”
Also in 1984, was selected as the first Annual “Roastee” by the Gainesville chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.
In 1985, was selected for inclusion in Who’s Who in Finance and Industry.
In 2002, was selected by Professional Builder Magazine as “One of the 101 Best Companies to Work For” in the Residential Construction Industry. This selection was due to the 65-member staff of The Emmer Group who took it upon themselves to submit for this recognition.
In 2003, was again selected by Professional Builder Magazine as “One of the 101 Best Companies to Work For” in the Residential Construction Industry. Of the 101 companies, Emmer Development was selected as one of the “50 best builders to work for.” There is no recognition more highly valued and deeply appreciated.
In 2004, Phil Emmer was selected by the Builders Association of North Central Florida for the prestigious A.W. Fletcher Service Award. This award is given for outstanding service to the Association and to the community.
Also in 2004, the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce honored Emmer Development as one of six winners in its “2004 Business of the Year” award ceremonies. EDC’s award category was for Best Business Expansion. This is the first time our name was entered for this annual program. We were one of 42 candidates selected by a jury of five judges.
In August 2004, Phil Emmer was cited by the staff of Emmer Development with an engraved glass plaque inscribed, “For 50 Years of Exceptional Achievement and Establishing the Principals Upon Which Our Company Was Founded.” This, from people with whom one serves on a daily basis is the most cherished award one could receive.
In September 2004, the residents of Marion Landing in Ocala, Florida added still one more surprise honor. With neither knowledge nor approval, the nearly 600 families went through the process of naming the main street Phil Emmer Boulevard. It is more typical that residents of a retirement community sue the developer, rather than honoring him and it is another milestone of a 50-year career. The honor belongs largely to the Emmer staff, all of whom actively pursue the goal of long-term customer satisfaction.
In September 2004, still one more honor, this time from the SunTrust Bank at a special commemorative breakfast hosted by Mr. George Koehn, Florida SunTrust president. After speaking of a 30-year successful relationship, Emmer Development was honored with a plaque inscribed, “For 50 years of superior performance in the Real Estate industry and their outstanding contributions to the community.”
In October 2004, the Alachua County branch of the NAACP selected Phil Emmer for its Humanitarian Award. The citation read “For Your Generous Contributions Given to Our Community and Alachua County.”
In December 2004, the Alachua County Commission issued a Proclamation citing Phil and Barbara Emmer for their charitable giving and ended the resolution: Now therefore, through the authority invested in me by the Board of County Commissioners of Alachua County, Florida, I do proclaim December 17, 2004 “Phil and Barbara Emmer day in Alachua County, Florida.” The resolution was signed by Cynthia Moore Chestnut, Chair of the County Commission.
In 2006, was recognized by the Jewish Museum of Florida as one of the most “Prominent Jewish Builders of Florida” and was asked to participate in an exhibition at the Museum. I advised the Executive Director that I am indeed a Jew, a builder and a Floridian, “but I am not prominent”. She said I was, so I prepared the exhibit. Nice recognition, nice company and a pleasant memory.
In 2007, Gator Bytes, a publication of the University of Florida Athletic Association featured Phil and Barbara Emmer citing them for their support of Gator athletic programs emphasizing an endowment for women’s athletics. The article featured our belief that good athletic programs enhance contributions to the more important educational functions of a university.
Charity & Community Involvement
The Emmer family, Emmer Development Corp., and the Barbara and Phil Emmer Family Foundation recognize the imperative to support organizations and people for the public good. These commitments have rarely been publicized for ethical reasons. Yet part of a biography and/or history requires an understanding of all sides of corporate and individual pursuits.
Among the goals of giving have been those in the area of medical and educational programs. Other programs that benefit children and seniors, the environment, religion, culture, interfaith and interracial organizations, good government and public television also receive support. A synopsis of these programs and organizations include the following:
In 1975, a major gift to B’nai Israel for the building of a new synagogue. I also headed a successful fund raising effort to build the structure. Upon completion, the only debt was a small mortgage paid off within two years.
In 1994, a major gift to the University of Florida Athletic Association to endow a scholarship for women’s athletics.
In 1995, a major commitment to the University of Florida. Payments on this commitment have been used for a variety of University needs/requests.
In 1997, a major commitment to fund a portion of the construction of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Subsequently, other gifts have been made to this institution.
In 2000, a major gift to the University of Florida, Health Science Center to enlarge the Harrell Center, a program in which medical students are taught to diagnose illnesses in a program that uses actors to replicate ill patients. This project was completed and dedicated in 2006 with a very nice plaque to the Emmer family. Our contribution, when matched by Board members and equaled by the State resulted in a $400,000 total.
In 2001, a major endowment to Dance Alive to create a scholarship program to encourage children with the talent, but not the finances to enroll in dance school. This program has had very promising success and was instrumental in developing a program for the performing arts at a Gainesville elementary school.
In 2002, a major gift was made towards the construction of a new Hillel House adjacent to the campus of the University of Florida with the goal of broadening and better serving a larger number of Jewish students. The matching funds required resulted in more than $200,000 raised in Gainesville.
In 2002, a major endowment to fund the acquisition of art at the Harn Museum at the University of Florida. Other gifts are made on a continuing basis.
In 2003, a major gift was made to build a new Reichert House, the purpose of which is to help at-risk mostly black children pursue after school educational programs. This has been one of the most successful programs of its type anywhere and has resulted in a success rate of almost 90%. On December 7, 2005 the new 6,700sf building was completed and the enrollment increased from about 30 to more than 80 students. Notable is that with the Emmer family gift, more than $267,000 was collected for this project from the Builders Association and the planning, cost estimating, construction and financing was all handled by members of the Builders Association. The success of this institution has been remarkable and currently handles about 100 children, again with a high success rate.
In September 2004, The Barbara and Phil Emmer Family Foundation committed to a sponsorship of the Monarch Society, a support group for the newly developed Rainforest and Butterfly Museum at the University of Florida.
In 2004, a gift was made to the Alachua County School Foundation to sponsor a scholarship for a 7th grade student who, with a commitment to live up to the high standards set by the Foundation, Shaunita Rutledge was awarded a full 4 year scholarship to the University of Florida. This is more than just a financial commitment. The young lady selected, will be monitored carefully by the Foundation and encouragement will come from Barbara and Phil Emmer. Similar gifts were made in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
In 2005, a major gift was made for the development of a Proton Beam center, a breakthrough facility at Shands Jacksonville, the purpose of which is to provide cancer patients with a very tightly defined high dosage radiation treatment with little or no damage to adjacent healthy tissues. This is one of only five similar facilities in the United States and continues Shands as a leader in the field of cancer treatment.
In 2005, I vigorously and successfully supported what could have been a ground breaking in local health care by taking a role financially and with time and effort to have voters approve a local initiative for a health care program called Community Health Offering Innovative Care and Educational Services, therefore CHOICES. This program would serve about 12,000 working families whose income or position did not allow them to have health insurance. It was approved by only a few votes after I prepared and paid for 3 full page ads.
In 2006, I learned once again, you win some and lose some. The CHOICES program offered a lot more than was delivered and today there is about $32,000,000 in the bank as a result of a sales tax that serves about 1,200 people. I have requested the county commission to stop collecting this tax, because of its negative affect on future citizen’s initiatives, but the request was ignored.
In 2007, a major gift commitment to the Graham Center at the University of Florida was made to support the goals of Bob Graham, who is generally acknowledged as one of Florida best ever governors and a recently retired U. S. Senator. The goals of this Institute is to focus attention on some of the most significant needs of our country in the areas of fluency in foreign languages; American government; Intelligence needs and similar programs.
In addition to the above, other commitments on either an ongoing, annual or occasional basis include the following:
Medical and Health Care: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, STOP Children’s Cancer, Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes, ACORN Clinic.
Educational: University of Florida, Georgia Tech Foundation, Santa Fe Community College, St. Patrick Interparish School, Miami Beach High School, Gainesville High, Buchholz High, Eastside High, J. J. Finley, Norton and Littlewood Elementary Schools.
Children’s Programs: Alachua County Youth Fair; Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of Alachua County, Girls Club, Junior Achievement, Alachua County Explorers, Junior Achievement, Rodeheaver Boys Ranch. UNICEF which is in a class by itself for the good it does worldwide.
On a trip to Africa a few years back, we met a young American UNICEF lady returning to her post in Sudan from a trip home. She was working for UNICEF and she explained the mission and the extreme difficulty in keeping children healthy. Moved with emotion, I gave her some money. True to her word, she sent us an update. We feel we must do what we can to save the world’s children. We are happy that we make an annual commitment to this organization. We also contribute annually to Shanghai Sunrise, a program run largely by American expats whose focus is on scholarships for orphaned children.
Seniors: Hospice House, Meals on Wheels, Douglas Gardens Assisted Living Facility.
Environment: Repair Our Wetlands (to prevent the destruction of wetlands in Gainesville), Legacy Lands (to support a self-taxation initiative to purchase and preserve land).
Religion: Knights of Malta, Hillel, B’nai Israel, Gainesville Jewish Appeal.
Culture: Harn Museum, Florida Museum of Natural History, American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera.
Multi-purpose: American Red Cross, United Way, Rotary Club.
Good Government: Concord Coalition, The Population Institute, Common Good,The Reform Institute
Patriotic: The Spirit of America, U. S. O.
Community Service: Financial contributions are only part of what charity means. We give of ourselves in a variety of ways, none more important than Barbara preparing a monthly meal for homeless people and together we serve the food to the grateful men, women and children at the St. Francis House, a homeless institution in Gainesville.