If You Build It…

They will come, suggests the 1989 baseball-oriented movie, “Field of Dreams”, starring Kevin Costner.

That’s certainly what real estate firm Kitson & Partners must have thought when they first purchased 18,000 acres of Florida Gulf shore properties, later named Babcock Ranch , and then started to build an ecofriendly, net zero energy, solar-powered town.

But it hasn’t been all sun and games. The land purchase took place in 2006. Less than a year later, the entire project crashed along with the nation’s housing market. Even bucolic Charlotte County, located between Fort Myers and Sarasota, couldn’t handle the challenge.

Fast forward to November of 2015, and the project – comprised of ultra-efficient homes and a utility-scale in-house solar power plant – takes hold. And where better to hold than the favorite location of Florida’s birdwatchers (three wildlife conservation preserves), pristine beaches (Manasota Key), a handful of small but scenic, unspoiled state parks, the 85-acre Worden organic farm, and TEAM Punta Gorda, which mixes bicycling camaraderie  and community gardens.

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