The ‘architects’ of the new community
In 1957, two brothers, Leonard and Jack Rosen, from Baltimore, Md., spent weeks looking over Southwest Florida for a piece of property to develop. Late that year they purchased a parcel of land from Grandville Keller and Franklin Miles for $678,000.
The land once known as Redfish Point was renamed Cape Coral.
The development company, Gulf American Land Corporation, started what was to be known as the “Waterfront Wonderland.” Ground was broken on Nov. 4, 1957.
On June 10, 1958, the first residents moved into their home in the southeastern part of the Cape.
At that time a waterview homesite sold for $990, waterfront, $1,990 and riverfront $3,390. Property sales reached over $9 million the first year.
In the early 1950s, the Rosen brothers bought a company making a hair product, Formula 9. Their partner was Charles Antell, whose name was on the product. The brothers became noted for a successful TV?commercial promoting the product. They are also said to be one of the first businesses to successfully utilize a mail-in-a-coupon TV commercial.
Reports indicate the brothers used the funds they had accumulated from the cosmetics company to purchase the land that would become Cape Coral.
In July 1957, the Gulf Guaranty Land and Title Company was incorporated, and a month later, through the company, the Rosens began purchasing land across the Caloosahatchee River from Fort Myers.
In her book, “The Other Side of the River, Historic Cape Coral,”?author Betsy Zeiss said, “What drew Leonard and Jack Rosen to the area is difficult to surmise. They saw the potential of developing the land and recognized the unique situation in that they could plan an entire city.”
By 1965, approximately 500 prospects a day were touring the property.
When sales reached a peak in 1969, Cape Coral was sold to General Acceptance Corporation of Allentown, Pa., for $250 million.
In 1970 with the population at 11,470 the City of Cape Coral was incorporated becoming Florida’s second largest in area, trailing only Jacksonville.