All Systems Go for Babcock Ranch
Site preparation work is well underway as Kitson & Partners prepares for the formal launch of Southwest Florida’s long-awaited new town
Punta Gorda, Fla. – Kitson & Partners has set Earth Day 2016 as the official birth date for the new town of Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida. While the detailed plans for first phase of construction will be formally unveiled at a kickoff event on April 22nd, today the Palm Beach Gardens based real estate development company announced that the site preparation work began in November and the level of activity will be steadily increasing over the next few months.
Planning for the Babcock community has been underway since 2006, when Kitson & Partners closed on the purchase of the 91,000 acre ranch from the Babcock family and immediately sold the vast majority of the property to the state as part of the largest single land preservation agreement in Florida history. The agreement preserved 73,000 acres and allowed for creation of a new town on the 18,000 acres retained by Kitson & Partners. While the plummet in the housing market altered the original timelines for construction, the vision remains unchanged.
“The time is finally right, and we are excited to get to work on a new town that can meet the diverse needs of families, employers, neighbors, businesses, surrounding communities and the natural environment for generations to come,” Kitson said. “Our focus on the environment, sustainability, technology, transportation, education and health and wellness will provide a whole new way of living – one that is conscientious, engaging and connected.”
A partnership with Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), one of the cleanest electric utilities in the country, for expansive solar energy production at Babcock Ranch captured international attention when it was first announced in 2009. The 400-acre on-site solar photovoltaic power plant now under construction keeps Babcock Ranch on track to become the world’s first new town powered primarily by the sun.
Designed to accommodate 19,500 residences, an engaging downtown, numerous green spaces, lakes, and nature trails, Babcock Ranch will ultimately be home to approximately 50,000 residents.
“Babcock Ranch is a place that reflects a decidedly different approach to Town Making. Our new town is all about connection – a connection with the land, the great outdoors, our neighbors, and with a lifestyle that values conservation, the environment, personal well-being, learning, innovation, and shared experiences,” Kitson said. “These connections are the key to creating a real community, where residents share a basic hometown pride and desire to participate and belong.”
Bordered by the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve and the 75,000-acre Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, Babcock Ranch is at the epicenter of Southwest Florida’s newest growth corridor, just 20 minutes east of downtown Fort Myers, Florida.
According to Kitson, the unique opportunity to create a new town from the ground up means every element of the town is a result of careful stewardship and choice, not chance. Features of the new town include:
- State of the art infrastructure that leverages technology to deliver superior services while lowering household costs
- Soon to be one of the largest solar power plants in the eastern U.S., the 75-megawatt FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center is expected to be completed and connected to FPL’s smart grid by the end of 2016
- A full range of on-site education choices from early learning to college degree programs with multi-modal digital and distance learning opportunities
- An innovative health and fitness center at the heart of the community that will support lifelong pursuits of a healthier, active lifestyle, sports training and medical wellness choices
- An advanced public and private transportation system of shared, driverless vehicles that is expected to be the eventual backbone for moving people and goods about in Babcock Ranch
- Unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature in a community that devotes half of its total 18,000 acre footprint to greenways, parks and lakes
“Every element of Phase One construction reflects the core principles that have guided this project from the very beginning,” Kitson said. “We are excited to see the vision become reality.”