On a recent midsummer visit to Babcock Ranch, families could be seen enjoying the Founder’s Square town center—bicycling along the boardwalk surrounding Lake Babcock, swimming in the community pool and dashing into the ice cream shop for treats.
It’s just as developer Syd Kitson envisioned 14 years ago when he purchased 18,000 acres of ranchland in southeast Charlotte County adjacent to a 68,000-acre state-owned conservation preserve. “A new town, not a community,” he told Sarasota Magazine in 2017—one with a big twist.
The Great Recession put his plans on hold for 10 years, but development is now going on apace. Kitson and his company, Kitson & Partners, planned Babcock Ranch with sustainability designed infrastructure, from the solar panels that power the community to stringent green building codes to an electric vehicle autonomous transportation system that eventually can be accessed through an app to take residents anywhere in the community. Coupled with 9,000 acres of bicycle and hiking trails and interconnected lakes, it is to be a town that celebrates health, wellness and technology. America’s first all-solar town. The "Hometown of Tomorrow."
The 1,400-some residents of Babcock Ranch today are certainly pioneers. The brand-new master-planned community, 75 miles south of downtown Sarasota, just started welcoming these residents in 2018. Already they are hiking its nature trails, kayaking on Lake Babcock, taking a range of fitness classes, and even participating in a stargazer’s club (although COVID-19 has caused the temporary shutdown of most group activities). The new charter Babcock Ranch Neighborhood School offers classes for students in grades K-9; other upper grade levels will be added as the community grows. Under construction now south of the main entrance is the Crescent B Commons shopping center, anchored by a Publix. It’s expected to be completed in 2021.
The Old Florida vernacular architecture here harkens back to a simpler time, but Babcock Ranch certainly looks to the future.
Babock Ranch by the Numbers
No. of Residents: 1,400
No. of Homes Sold: 550; additional 150 under contract
No. of Homes at Build Out: 19,500
Schools: Babcock Neighborhood School, offering K-9th grade in 2020-2021 school year
Estimated Time of Build-Out: 15 to 20 years
*As of July 1, 2020