A Brand New Florida Town Built for the Future

Babcock Ranch was recently featured on ABC’s West Palm Beach’s local news affiliate, WPBF News. Anchor Mark Kelly visited our community to interview Syd Kitson, to understand the vision of Babcock Ranch to become the most environmentally responsible, sustainable town in the country, as well we meet some of our residents.

Check out the rest of the article here on the ABC WPBF site.

Article Summary:

In Punta Gorda, Florida, a new development is challenging the traditional divide between developers and environmentalists. Morning Anchor Mark Kelly explores Babcock Ranch, a forward-thinking community envisioned by Syd Kitson, chair and CEO of Kitson & Partners. This ambitious project aims to be the most environmentally responsible, sustainable new town ever built in the United States.

Syd Kitson, the visionary behind Babcock Ranch, has designed a community that integrates modern living with environmental stewardship. “We want it to be the most environmentally responsible, sustainable new town that’s ever been built in the entire country,” said Kitson. This project is not just another gated community; it is a 21st-century town designed with sustainability at its core.

Babcock Ranch boasts 51 miles of trails, several neighborhoods, a town square, an ice-cream shop, and a lake. The town is “green” in every sense, featuring native landscaping, natural fertilizers, and farm-to-table restaurants. Technological innovation is woven into the fabric of the community, with free WiFi, gigabit fiber connections for every home and business, and self-driving shuttles.

Eli Ghosn, a team member responsible for the self-driving shuttles, explains how they work. Using an app, residents can summon a shuttle to take them wherever they need to go. “You’re teaching people something that in 10, 15 years could be the norm,” said Ghosn. The shuttles are powered by zero-emission technology, aligning with the town’s sustainability goals.

The heart of Babcock Ranch’s sustainability efforts is its solar energy. The community is powered by 343,000 solar panels in a vast solar field. “I’m first and foremost an environmentalist, and I happen to be a developer,” said Kitson. The town is the first in the United States to be entirely solar-powered. Kitson has collaborated with Florida Power & Light to build the first solar-to-battery storage facility of its kind, ensuring a steady supply of renewable energy.

Babcock Ranch is set to house 20,000 homes, including new constructions like those recently purchased by the Vokaty family. They are relocating from South Florida to join an environmental movement and provide their daughters with access to an A-rated charter school. The community offers big-city amenities with small-town charm. “Everyone looks each other in the eyes and says good morning or good afternoon. It’s just very pleasant,” said Kelli Vokaty. The town features parks, trails, schools, shopping centers, and wellness facilities.

The appeal of Babcock Ranch extends beyond the affluent. Housing options range from rentals and condos starting at $180,000 to million-dollar homes. The Barnes family, moving from Palm Beach County, finds Babcock more affordable and offering a better lifestyle. “We found this area, particularly this community, to be more affordable and a nicer lifestyle than what we could have found where we were in South Florida,” said Michael Barnes.

For the families moving to Babcock Ranch, this community represents a new chapter. For Syd Kitson, it is the realization of a lifelong dream shared with his late father. “One of his comments to me was, ‘it seems to me you’ve been working your whole life for this, and you need to make it happen.’ I think he passed away about a week later,” Kitson recalled. Reflecting on his father’s likely reaction to Babcock Ranch, Kitson said, “I think he would be very proud.”

Babcock Ranch derives its name from the original family that owned the land since 1914. This historical connection adds to the town’s unique identity, blending the past with a vision for the future.

Babcock Ranch exemplifies how thoughtful development can harmonize with environmental goals. It stands as a testament to what can be achieved when sustainability and innovation are prioritized. As more families move in, Babcock Ranch continues to grow as a model of responsible, forward-thinking community planning.