Tierra Verde was once 15 islands covered with mangroves, pines and bush. These islands ranged in size from only a few acres to the largest, Cabbage Key, having over 289 acres. For centuries, Native Americans used the islands for ceremonial and burial grounds. A marker remains on the east side of Pinellas Bayway, just north of East Shore Drive, where Native American relics were found in a typical shell mound, excavated when the road was built to Fort De Soto Park. The islands were sacred ground to Native nations as far back as 500 years ago, archaeologists suggest, and deadly conflicts occurred when outsiders trespassed.
In 1980 Tierra Verde real estate was valued at $15 million. By 1991 values had soared to $304 million. In November 1996 the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office evaluated property at $349 million, 1999 values were listed at $478 million and in 2003 values are listed at $632 million. There are now approximately 2,000 single-family and multi-family structures on the island, as well as a number of commercial enterprises. An estimated 2,500 families are expected when Tierra Verde is built to completion.