Housing woes change shockingly little in Southwest Florida: 19,500 new homes planned

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{an image of Lehigh Acres}

Just east of Fort Myers, FL is Lehigh Acres. From 1950-2000 15,216 homes were built here. From 2004-2006 13,183 homes were built. The median home price in the Fort Myers area dropped from a high of $322,300 in December 2005 to $106,900 in December 2008. A typical home in Lehigh Acres is selling for $45,000 or almost 1/3 of what it cost to build. So what will the impact be on real estate development in the Fort Myers area?

A new city, Babcock Ranch, 17,000 acres, 19,500 new homes is planned for northeast of Fort Myers. Why does this make sense? It seems the developer is counting on solar power to make the development a success. A 75-megawatt solar generator will produce more power than the town needs. Excess power will be pushed onto the grid during the day and power will be taken back out at night when the solar generator will produce no power.


{Babcock City and Preserve shown in red, Lehigh Acres is outlined in blue}


{an image from the Babcock City website}

Hey, solar power is good right? “It’s the right thing to do for the long-term solutions in this country,” the developer says. He’s confident that the “green” aspects of the development will entice buyers to avoid developments now in foreclosure.

Is this really how we’re going to approach a “green” future? Building entire new cities of 19,500 homes and calling that “green” because they use solar power? What about the impact of construction? What about all the miles residents will drive to get to Fort Myers and other places? What about the waste as literally thousands of homes sit and rot a few miles away?

This is not the sort of development that leads us to a sustainable future.

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