Kenneth E. Behring was born on June 13, 1928 to poor parents. As a child growing up in Wisconsin, he held many jobs. Behring was an enterprising go-getter. Out of collage he worked at selling cars and eventually owning a Pontiac car dealership where he excelled in sales and promotion. Married to his wife Pat he still wanted more. At the age of 27, and having a million dollars worth of assets Behring came to Broward County, in 1956. He quickly saw the opportunity in building.
Behring’s first projects were apartments in Fort Lauderdale but he quickly learned that the buyers wanted a single family home with condominium amenities. To accommodate these buyers, he obtained land that was practically uninhabitable. Land had to be cleared and moved, canals and lakes had to be dug, developments had to be laid out, all this to create his vision. The building codes in Broward County had restrictions as to lot size and William Morse, a member of Behring’s team, suggested they create their own city, to accommodate their plan and that became “Tamarac”.
Behring’s model community of 250 homes and a clubhouse with recreational amenities, was also developing a new “way of life” . The residents were able to have fun, swim, play shuffleboard, golf and enjoy life, because all the maintenance on their homes was handled by others for a small monthly $23.00 fee. The concept took off and the population explosion began and continued so much so that Behring ran out of land just short of the Sunshine State Parkway (today the Florida Turnpike). There was no means to cross the road to continue to build westward. The only access was a stock tunnel, cows only, and the occasional car one at a time. Behring petitioned the state to build an overpass at Commercial Boulevard. The state denied the request since there currently was no reason to travel to a place where nothing existed. Behring was undeterred and petitioned again but included donating 29 acres of land to the state in exchange for them to build the overpass. The overpass was dubbed Behring Overpass, and the westward expansion was able to continue.
The City of Tamarac, was well on the way to being a destination attracting people who wanted a larger home. Vista Villa’s was erected on the R Bar Ranch, on the west side of the Sunshine State Parkway. This upscale community is now the Woodlands Country Club. Behring built a unique community, employing the best architects, landscape architect, interior designer to accomplish his most spectacular plan. Included were two Von Hagge championship golf courses. The Woodlands became the most ambitious of all Behring properties which included a magnificent home for his family. More land was again needed.
Behring’s people negotiated with Lena Lyons to acquire 5000 acres which is adjacent to Coral Springs. One more golf course community, Colony West, was added. Behring then became interested in building modular homes. Imagine buying a home and having it erected on a lot in one week with pre-formed parts! Behring made an unheard of idea a reality. “Modiflex” a manufacturing plant that gained national prominence as well as FHA approval (which was no small feat) led to a housing development called Heathgate, the first family oriented development. Families with children flocked to our city. The new area now needed better roads, schools, an expanded hospital, more houses of worship, restaurants, businesses to meet the residents needs. Although the “way of life” was changing our city continued to thrive.
Behring soon decided to leave our city for yet another venture. Behring Properties merged with Leadership Housing who would continue to build our the City keeping the original Behring model in mind.