Cape Coral, Florida, was built on total lies. One big storm could wipe it off the map. Oh, and it’s also the fastest-growing city in the US

CAPE CORAL, Florida — The ads promised paradise, “Legendary Lazy Living” in a “Waterfront Wonderland.” The brochures sold the Florida dream, “an enchanted City-in-the-Making (average temperature: 71.2 degrees)” without winter, worries or state income taxes. Cape Coral was America’s land of tomorrow, just $20 down and $20 a month for a quarter-acre slice of heaven: “Breathtaking, isn’t it? How could it be otherwise when Nature was so lavishly generous to begin with?”

© Alexander Heilner


Writers are always warning that the Florida dream is in mortal danger; my entry during the 2008 real estate meltdown was titled “Sunset State.” But not long after that, when Cape Coral was still the foreclosure capital of the world, Gloria Raso Tate launched a “Catch the Vision” marketing campaign to try to resuscitate its reputation. It must have worked, because this year the city topped that Forbes list. And Raso Tate isn’t worried Irma will even dent the dream. As the old Gulf American brochures promised: “It’s fun to live in a high-growth area!” Snowbirds are already calling her about winter rentals.

“Paradise,” she says, “is open for business.”