To Sell a City

Peddling Lazy Lake proved problematic, but Realtor Sue Carolyn Wise won't surrender

Back in the Rolls, Wise drives to the end of Lazy Lane and honks her horn. Joe Fodera opens the gate and offers a tour of his two-acre spread, complete with a fountain in the front and a deck in the back overlooking a secluded lagoon ringed by towering Australian pines. Across the lagoon sits his small workshop. The quickest way to get there is by rowboat.

Fodera has lived in Lazy Lake for 12 years. It was his idea to put the whole place up for sale in 1995, and he's the one who brought in Wise. "It was a good idea that just didn't have enough time," he says. "We thought if we could get everyone together, we could make a handsome profit."

It was important that everyone sign on, he notes. "It's very complicated to sell a city. It's easy to sell 13 residences if everyone agrees. You skip all the legalities."

Wanna buy a city? Talk to this lady.
Joshua Prezant
Wanna buy a city? Talk to this lady.

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On the other side of the lagoon, one of the village cats slinks to the edge of the water for a drink. There are three community felines, says Fodera: the orange-and-white one, the white-and-brown one, and the black one.

Joe McCallion's place is the next stop. McCallion and his roommate, Jim Rafferty, live in a kind of faux castle, complete with a turret, on the outer ring of Lazy Lake, NE 24th Street. Their place is built on the side of a hill, so you enter at street level and walk onto a veranda in back with a stunning second-story view of the lake. Only the din of traffic on nearby Andrews Avenue shatters the illusion of a northwoods lake resort.

McCallion, age 62, is a semiretired electrical contractor from Boston who moved to Lazy Lake in 1989. He has a shock of snow-white hair, wears bright red shorts, and likes to feed the turtles from his deck. He has served on the town council and says government is no fun in this burg. A few months ago, residents had to band together to throw three people off the council. They wanted to raise taxes $1500 per house. Lazy Lake has among the lowest tax rates in Broward, and the majority of residents wanted to keep it that way. "We do have a shortfall," he notes. "We want to do stuff with the lake."

The town council meets quarterly, and the lake consumes most of its time -- every property owner has a one-thirteenth stake in it. At the January meeting, the council members approved a plan to spend $5544 to treat the lake for weeds, install aerators, and restock it with weed-eating carp.

Two doors away from McCallion's castle is the home of Lazy Lake's longest-tenured resident -- a woman who has lived here 48 years without air conditioning and insists that her name not be mentioned in the newspaper. It just brings trouble with the neighbors, she says. Her father built her house, which is best described as "rustic."

She has also served on the council, and did ten years as the fire chief, "though they didn't even give me a badge or a helmet," she says. Despite the fact that she's about as isolated as one can get in eastern Broward County, she's considering a move to Central Florida to find real solitude. She'd sign on to a wholesale buyout but doubts a buyer will materialize. "It just wasn't a very good idea," she says.

Wise, ever the high-end optimist, begs to differ. Undaunted by Lazy Lake's ambivalent attitude toward being sold, she's ready to try and reassemble the deal. "When people hear the amount of money we're talking about, anyone will move." Then she climbs back in her Rolls and takes off, a cloud of blue smoke trailing from her exhaust pipe.

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