Welcome to Lehigh Acres, a diverse community of approximately 80,000 residents. Just 12 miles from Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres boasts ponds, lakes and canals. Visitors can enjoy year-round freshwater fishing, golf, biking, tennis and walking.
Lehigh Acres is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lee County, Florida, United States. The US Census Bureau estimates the CDP’s population at 67,867 as of 2006. The community is an expansive, pre-platted subdivision of approximately 61,000 acres (250 km2).
Lehigh Acres is a part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated 2006 population of 798,324.
Lehigh Acres got its start in the mid 1950s when Chicago businessman Lee Ratner needed a tax shelter. He had sold his pest control business, and he faced the possibility of losing most of his earnings to the high capital gains tax of that era. Ratner heard that cattle was a good investment for people in his predicament, and he bought 18,000 acres (73 km²) of land in eastern Lee County and named it the Lucky Lee Ranch. After ranching for a while, and despite having no prior development experience, Ratner joined with Gerald H. Gould, a Florida advertising executive, Manuel Riskin, a Chicago CPA, and Edward Shapiro, a former Chicagoan who was in the real estate business in California, and began land sales at Lehigh Acres.
Gerald Gould was the president of the corporation that developed Lehigh Acres which began in business in 1954. He remained as president until the company was sold in 1972.
Since the days of the Lucky Lee Ranch, the boundaries of Lehigh Acres have stretched to cover 61,000 acres (250 km2), to include the runways of the former Buckingham Army Airfield, a major Army Air Forces training base that was closed at the end of World War II. The pasture land where Ratner’s cattle roamed and the since broken up runways where military flight crews trained has been divided into some 152000 0.25-acre (1,000 m2) and 0.5-acre (2,000 m2) lots for housing, along over eleven thousand miles of roads. Strips of land along major thoroughfares, such as Homestead Road and Lee Boulevard, were set aside for commerce. In 1997, nearly 90% of Lehigh Acres’ lots remained vacant.
A surge in housing prices led to a boom in Lehigh Acres new-housing construction from 2003 to 2007, peaking at more than 7,500 new homes constructed in 2006. The number of homes built during this period exceeded the total number of homes constructed during the preceding 50 years.
The community is diverse with many different social clubs, athletic leagues, military organizations, service groups and churches. Additionally, the community boasts many fine schools, its own award-winning hospital and a regional library.
Lehigh Acres is patrolled by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department which maintains a permanent presence located on Homestead Road.
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