It was just a vacant lot a few blocks from Page Field and the Edison Mall. Two generations later, it’s a cornerstone of the community. Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, is celebrating the 40-year anniversary of groundbreaking on the firm’s headquarters at the corner of Evans and Winkler avenues, where shovels first dug into earth in 1979.
“We’ve come a long way, but I’m proud to say this is still our home,” Scheiner said. “We’re just as dedicated to serving the people of Southwest Florida now as we were then.”
Scheiner and his wife, Cheryl, spent most of the 1970s working in a one-room downtown Fort Myers office. They went looking for a better place and heard about a property auction for a 5-acre lot that was to be split into four 1.25-acre pieces.
“The auction was unusual because it started high and went low,” Scheiner said. “The person with the highest bid got to pick the parcel they wanted.”
The first parcel, at Winkler and Fowler Street, became Grandy’s restaurant, which closed after 30 some years. The second parcel, along Fowler Street, became a Rax restaurant that long ago shuttered.
Parcel No. 3 went to Scheiners, who started small. The Scheiner Building covered only half the approximately 20,000 square feet it does now when the Scheiners opened their doors in 1981, and the firm didn’t even take up all of that, setting aside the rest as rental property.
The Scheiners didn’t get very far as landlords before they realized they needed to expand. They were spending nearly every waking hour at work as they dealt with the area’s accelerating growth and a robust response to the firm’s advertisements.
They took up the rest of the building, then built an identical 10,000-square-foot addition and connected them with an enclosure. Phase two of the Scheiner Building was completed in 1986.
Since then, the attractive tinted-glass-paneled edifice has greeted countless visitors and staff. The outdoor landscaping is subdued, save for the palm trees growing out of a wedge-shaped opening in the roof, one of a handful of triangular features designed by architect Rick McCormack. The lobby inside is wood-paneled, calm and soothing.
“What I like is it’s different,” Scheiner said. “It’s not a typical Florida building. Rick is a creative guy and he did something that set us apart from other buildings.”
Today, the firm has satellite offices in Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte. Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner attorneys have handled more than 20,000 cases over the years, recovering millions of dollars for those who have been hurt by the negligence of others and contributing countless more to a litany of Southwest Florida charitable endeavors.
The Scheiner Building has been the nerve center for it all, and it’s running at full capacity.
“We’re using every nook and cranny,” Scheiner said.
He projects the building will continue to serve the firm well for the next five years, but whether another expansion will be necessary after that is anybody’s guess. For now, the roots of justice in Southwest Florida continue to grow deep at the corner of Winkler and Evans.
“This is our home, and we treat our clients like family,” Scheiner said. “This is the place people can turn to in their hour of need.”
Visit blslaw.com to find out about the compassionate and tenacious service to clients that has made Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner an indelible part of the community.