Before the real estate bust in 2006, DeSoto County was poised to become the next Florida boomtown. Developers embarked on a pair of projects, Valencia Lakes and DeSoto Lakes, that would add 30,500 residences.
Ranches and groves along the Kings Highway and U.S. 17 corridors sprouted for sale signs and the county installed 20 miles of utility infrastructure to accommodate the growth. Less ambitious projects with names like StoneyBrook Oaks, Sonoma Preserve and Tippen Bay added to the speculative frenzy, even as Tennessee billionaire Brad Kelley snapped up 65,000 acres of ranchland for his exotic game preserve.
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