Imagine 19,500 homes powered exclusively by the sun, and not one of them with solar panels. That is the vision for Babcock Ranch, a 18,000-acre development near Fort Myers, Fla., that had been waylaid by the recession but is now back on track.
Instead of individual PV panels, the community and the broader region will be supplied with solar energy via Florida Power and Light’s 74.5 megawatt Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center. Expected to be operational by the end of the year, the 443-acre solar power plant will be located in the Babcock Ranch and will supply more than enough energy to meet residents’ needs, according to project planners.
Planning for Babcock Ranch has been underway since 2006. While the 2009 plummet in the housing market altered the original timelines for construction, the vision of developer Syd Kitson has remained unchanged. The latest plan for the project was unveiled in late April and a first-phase opening is slated for early 2017. (Click here for an article about Kitson’s purchase of the land.)
When the town is complete, it will comprise 19,500 residences and a total of 6 million square feet of commercial and community space. More than half of the total land will be dedicated for green spaces, lakes and nature trails. Ultimately, approximately 50,000 residents will call Babcock Ranch home.
As the largest development project currently underway in the United States, Babcock Ranch will be one of the most sustainable and health-focused towns in the U.S., according to project planners.
“Babcock Ranch will exemplify what it means to be a town of the future, offering residents a highly unique balance of the most technologically advanced infrastructure and amenities, with ready access to a rich natural environment and a true sense of community,” says Kitson, CEO of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based development firm Kitson & Partners.
Phase 1 development encompasses 1,100 single-family and multifamily residences and a downtown area with a wellness center, café, restaurant, and outdoor outfitter shop.