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Heidi Rambo Centrella

A century ago, the population of the Sunshine State was right around 1 million people. In the last 50 years, the population has tripled and then some, from about 7 million to 22 million plus. Essentially, lots of people are choosing to live in Florida. This part of the state is certainly no exception—who wouldn’t want to live in this beautiful beachy backyard?

For many newcomers, and more than a few longer-term locals, that means finding an apartment. And much like the market for houses, apartments in Southwest Florida are big business—and getting bigger fast. During a 30-month period from January 2020 to June of this year, 33 apartment complexes of at least 100 units were sold, for a combined price tag of $2.6 billion. Compared to similar sales from 2017 to 2019, that represents an increase in a local apartment unit’s value of 60% since the onset of the pandemic. But it takes a ton of time, effort and financial outlay to make those sales come to fruition; David Dorsey takes a close look at what goes into pulling together some of the biggest of these big-time deals that help define our residential landscape, beginning on page 30.

Longtime locals may remember the scenic landscape of yesteryear in Bonita Springs, though they may not have seen it in person since the Tamiami Trail was rerouted to carry the heavier traffic away (more of that statewide growth) and left the stretch of Old 41 Road that runs through town to its own devices. Several landmarks have changed—though the Wonder Gardens are still there, the Shell Factory and Wayside Inn are gone and the shell of the old Dixie Moon Cafe was moved—but a number of residents feel that bypassing the bustle and letting uninterested travelers hurry past hasn’t been a bad thing, and that downtown has benefited from a moderate stop-and-explore vibe. Tim Aten and Samantha Roesler consider how Bonita’s past has shaped its present, and discuss plans for the future with local entrepreneurs working to develop the town’s inviting identity through new businesses and amenities (p. 46).

Of course, one of the most compelling amenities in Bonita Springs is one shared by all of us: it’s in Southwest Florida. We might not have much in the way of brightly colored autumn foliage, but this is a perfect time to get out and go camping, go hiking or just take in the beauty of the paradise in our backyards. October is my favorite month; I hope you find something new to enjoy in it.

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