By Mike Miller May 26, 2023
Located in Charlotte County and Lee County, Babcock Ranch is a master planned community in Southwest Florida east of the Fort Myers - Punta Gorda area.
It is one of the most innovative and sustainable new communities in Florida and is America's first solar-powered town.
Born in 2015, this ambitious new city of 18,000 acres has set itself apart by creating a harmonious balance between modern living and ecological responsibility.
Even though it is located in the rapidly developing Southwest Florida corridor, it is far enough east in the rural area to escape the turmoil and traffic nearer the coast.
The original Babcock Ranch was a large working cattle ranch and agricultural operation of 91,000 acres owned by the Babcock family.
E.V. Babcock owned the Babcock Lumber Company in Pittsburgh. This lumber baron came to Southwest Florida in 1912 to hunt and fish.
He liked the area so well he bought 100,000 acres of used up turpentine land and added to his acreage over the years. He finally converted his land to a cattle ranch.
The Babcocks, known for their deep appreciation of the land and commitment to conservation, nurtured the area's natural beauty for generations.
One of their innovations is the Babcock Ranch Ecotour that is still in operation today.
The tour is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the diverse natural habitats in this part of Florida.
The family's stewardship cultivated a legacy that served as the foundation for the transformation of this land into a vibrant and sustainable city.
Babcock Ranch's metamorphosis from ranch to city was made possible through the concerted efforts of Syd Kitson and his team at Kitson & Partners.
The Kitson group worked hand in hand with the Babcock family, the State of Florida, Charlotte County, Lee County, and federal agencies.
Recognizing the potential for a truly sustainable community, Kitson negotiated the purchase of the land and embarked on a journey to acquire the necessary zoning approvals.
Through extensive collaboration with the Babcock family, local authorities, and environmental organizations, the vision for Babcock Ranch gradually took shape.
It required careful consideration of land use, preservation of natural habitats, and the integration of sustainable infrastructure.
Kitson's team worked tirelessly to ensure that the city's development adhered to environmentally conscious principles, while also meeting the needs of future residents.
It took several years of planning and permitting before the community finally came out of the ground in 2015.
Of the original 91,000 acre ranch, 18,000 acres will be used for the new city and 73,000 will remain in preservation forever. The new city will eventually have 19,500 homes.
The neighborhoods at Babcock Ranch have a mix of single-family homes and low-rise condominiums.
This residential density of only 1.08 homes per acre makes it one of the least congested master planned communities in the United States.
One of Babcock Ranch's standout features is its commitment to renewable energy. Spanning over 18,000 acres, the city boasts an impressive 870-acre solar panel farm.
The solar generation operation is known as the FPL Babcock Ranch Energy Center.
The solar installation is operated by the Babcock Ranch developer in conjunction with Florida Power & Light.
This extensive solar installation generates a staggering 74.5 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, powering not only the city's infrastructure but also its residents' homes.
The solar farm has 330,000 solar panels and has the largest battery storage system in the United States.
The entire power system at Babcock Ranch uses the latest smart-grid technology.
Commercial buildings throughout the new town have solar panels on their roofs which adds to the self sufficiency of the community. Some homes also have roof top solar panels.
An amazing feature of the community is the proliferation of "solar trees" in Founder's Square and other neighborhood parks.
These trees not only provide light at night, but allow people to charge their smart phones and other devices.
Through net-zero energy technology and energy-efficient building design, Babcock Ranch achieves a remarkable level of self-sufficiency, reducing its carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.
All homes and buildings in Babcock Ranch are designed and built to Florida Green Building Coalition standards. The design intent of the homes is to reflect historic Florida regional styles.
Among the builders at Babcock Ranch are D.R. Horton, Lennar, Meritage Homes, Pulte Home Company, Toll Brothers, WCI, and William Ryan Homes.
These builders offer their homes in several different new neighborhoods in Babcock Ranch. Most of them have model homes with a variety of styles and floor plans.
The neighborhoods include Babcock National, Crescent Grove, Crescent Lakes, Edgewater and Edgewater Shores, Lake Timber, Northridge, The Preserve, The Sanctuary, and Waterview Landing.
Some of these communities are gated.
To further emphasize sustainable living, Babcock Ranch encourages a pedestrian-oriented lifestyle with a lot of green space located throughout the entire town.
There are many facilities for both indoor and outdoor recreation in the community including a fitness center, basketball courts, and bocce ball courts.
Cypress Lodge and Lake Timber Lodge are separate amenities for residents that feature swimming pools and playgrounds. They also have docks for lounging by the lake or fishing.
With an intricate network of walkable and bikeable paths and trails, residents can effortlessly traverse the city while reducing the need for car travel.
The incorporation of smart technology, including energy-efficient lighting and smart grid infrastructure, further enhances the city's commitment to sustainability and resource conservation.
The city's dedication to preserving its natural surroundings is evident through the preservation of green spaces, wildlife corridors, and expansive parks.
By embracing eco-friendly landscaping practices and implementing water conservation measures, Babcock Ranch ensures that its residents can enjoy the beauty of nature without compromising its delicate balance.
Homeowners pay an HOA fee of $140 per month which helps maintain this beautiful community.
Crescent B. Commons is a new (2022) 83,487square-foot shopping center at Babcock Ranch. It is anchored by a Publix Super Market and has many shops and restaurants.
The center is located at the entrance to Babcock Ranch at 14500 State Road 31 and is very convenient to Babcock Ranch residents.
The Lakehouse Kitchen & Bar overlooks Lake Babcock, one of the lakes in Babcock Ranch. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week and is very popular with residents of Babcock Ranch.
M'xuma Tacos is located next to Publix in the Crescent B Commons shopping center. Great for 2 for 1 drinks and great Mexican food.
Pi Local is a pizza specialist located in the Crescent B Commons shopping center at Babcock Ranch. In addition to pizza, their menu includes appetizers, salads, wings, paninis and wraps. They also have a nice beer and wine selection.
U-Yee Sushi & Grill is also located in the Crescent B Commons shopping center at Babcock Ranch. As the name implies, the focus is on sushi but they also have some great hibachi meals on the menu.
Slater's Goods & Provisions is a community market located in Founder's Square at Babcock Ranch. They are the town market for farm fresh ingredients and have a salad bar along with serving breakfast and lunch.
Square Scoops Coffee & Creamery is an ice cream store in Founder's Square. It's a great place or dessert including milk shakes and you can also get a good cup of coffee.
Gator Shack Restaurant is right next door to Babcock Ranch at Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours on State Road 31. This historic place has a nice menu of full dinners or light snacks.
Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours - 8502 State Road 31, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 - Embark on a guided eco-tour through the pristine wilderness of Babcock Ranch, where you can spot wildlife, learn about the area's history, and explore the beautiful landscapes. You may see a black bear, red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, wild turkey, and other wide-ranging species on the tour.
Babcock Neighborhood School - 42850 Crescent Loop, Babcock Ranch, FL 33982 - Visit the innovative and sustainable Babcock Neighborhood School, known for its emphasis on project-based learning and environmental education.
Curry Creek Outfitters - 42850 Crescent Loop, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 - Plan a kayak or paddleboard adventure with Curry Creek Outfitters, offering rentals and guided tours along the peaceful waterways of the region.
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens - 5827 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 - Immerse yourself in the beauty of art and nature at this expansive garden, featuring stunning sculptures, vibrant flora, and tranquil walking paths.
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium - 3450 Ortiz Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33905 - Discover the natural wonders of Florida through interactive exhibits, nature trails, a planetarium, and live animal displays at this educational center.
Babcock Ranch Preserve - 8000 State Road 31, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 - Explore the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve, offering hiking trails, camping opportunities, and abundant wildlife in a picturesque setting.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates - 2350 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33901 - Step back in time and tour the historic winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, surrounded by lush gardens and fascinating exhibits.
Fishermen's Village - 1200 W Retta Esplanade #57A, Punta Gorda, FL 33950 - Visit this waterfront shopping and dining destination, featuring charming boutiques, restaurants, and regular events overlooking the marina.
Punta Gorda History Park - 501 Shreve Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33950 - Step into the past at this living history museum, showcasing restored historic buildings, gardens, and exhibits that highlight Punta Gorda's heritage.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve - 7751 Penzance Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33966 - Take a leisurely walk along the boardwalk trails of this 3,500 acre nature preserve, home to diverse wildlife, including alligators, wading birds, and turtles.
Gulf Coast Town Center - 9903 Gulf Coast Main Street, Fort Myers, FL 33913 - Indulge in shopping, dining, and entertainment at Gulf Coast Town Center, featuring an array of retail stores, restaurants, and a movie theater.
Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park - 12301 Burnt Store Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33955 - Explore the unspoiled beauty of this state park, offering hiking trails, kayaking, birdwatching, and breathtaking views of Charlotte Harbor.
Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library - 4125 Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33901 - Delve into military history and honor veterans at this museum in Edison mall, which houses a vast collection of artifacts, exhibits, and a library dedicated to preserving the past.
Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary - 41660 Horseshoe Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 - Visit this non-profit sanctuary that provides a safe home for exotic animals, including tigers, bears, and primates, while promoting conservation and education.
Shell Factory & Nature Park - 16554 N Cleveland Avenue, North Fort Myers, FL 33903 - Enjoy a day of family-friendly fun at the Shell Factory, featuring a nature park, botanical gardens, a petting zoo, shopping, and mini-golf.
Laishley Park - 100 Nesbit Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33950 - Spend a relaxing day at Laishley Park, offering a scenic waterfront, picnic areas, a playground, and a fishing pier with stunning views of Charlotte Harbor.
Fort Myers River District - Downtown Fort Myers, FL 33901 - Explore the vibrant downtown area of Fort Myers, known as the River District, with its historic buildings, art galleries, shops, and diverse dining options.
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge - 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957 - Venture to nearby Sanibel Island and visit this renowned wildlife refuge, offering excellent birdwatching, hiking trails, and the opportunity to observe unique ecosystems.
If you plan to fly into the area, Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers has the most flights. Nearby Punta Gorda Airport is also close to Babcock Ranch but has fewer flight.
Learn More at the Babcock Ranch Website
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