Since its inception in 1958, Cape Coral, FL has known no other existence than one of volatile real estate speculation. Baltimore entrepreneurs Leonard and Jack Rosen, who precariously created Cape Coral from their purchase of Redfish Point in 1957, set in motion a real estate development plan that has maintained a venturesome temperament to the present day. As a result, when the housing market began to collapse in 2007, Lee County Florida where Cape Coral resides, which had previously led the United States in home sales, subsequently led the United States in foreclosures.
I made my first trip to the Cape when I was a kid, visiting my grandfather Walter for the first time. Since then, I’ve made countless trips back. Every time, something has changed. In 2000, Walter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my father Michael decided to purchase a home in the Cape. In 2004, Hurricane Charley swept through the area. Walter passed away in December of 2006. In 2007, while my father counted the days until he could take permanent residence in the Cape, he unexpectedly died of cancer, days before his 55th birthday. Beginning in 2008, Cape Coral experienced over 10 percent unemployment while house prices fell around 65 percent. In 2014, with a 6 percent unemployment rate and a 29 percent increase in home prices, Forbes ranked Cape Coral as one of America’s fastest-growing cities and one of the 25 best places to retire. Cape Coral is a place of the unexpected.