Florida Foreclosed

Foreclosure, Naples, FL / Photo credit:  Susannah Breslin

Foreclosure, Naples, FL / Photo credit: Susannah Breslin

What's more interesting than the subdivisions of affordable suburban tract homes in Florida that went to apocalyptic hell in the wake of the Great Recession are the mega-mansions worth many millions that to this day sit in a state of lush green decay like concrete block Miss Havishams. Once upon a time, you can see by their Zestimates, they were worth $1M, $2M, $3M and more. In dated photos on listings that have long since expired, before banks came along and foreclosed on them, you can see them at their thousands of square feet glory: the many-tiered tray ceilings with custom lighting, the acres of travertine set on the diagonal, the luxury showers that accommodate three at a time. Today, they are worth half their previous values or less than that. Tucked between neighboring homeowners that wish they didn't exist, their filmy windows gaze blankly at those who bother to peek over their dilapidated gates. Inside, you wade through the flooded swamps that were their manicured lawns, peer inside at their ceilings falling from leaks that make puddles on their granite counter tops, gaze into the putrid vats that used to be their swimming pools with spas and wonder where, when, and how it all went so wrong. The families aren't totally gone: the aluminum baseball bat left on the greening lanai, the stuffed yellow duck forgotten in the dust, the box of letters filled with unpaid bills from banks looking to collect and Happy Father's Day cards addressed to a head of household who must have found, to his surprise, his American Dream had fell to rot, and who, not knowing what to do, simply left.