Located 20 minutes from downtown Fort Myers Babcock Ranch is a new urban development that combines the concept of a traditional walkable community with the desire for greener and more sustainable life. Babcock Ranch will be the first solar town in the United States, but what does that mean?
This new city will include 19 thousand homes, a downtown area with retail, office space and restaurants, and FPL approved smart-grid technology. The town has been designed with sustainability in mind and is surrounded by thousands of acres of wildlife preserve. The developers are hoping to attract not only SWFL locals but also out-of-towners.
Our team was on site and toured the first neighborhood which is already under development. We met with Lisa Hall, the media director of the project and spent the morning capturing the essence of the ranch as best we could.
The idea for this eco-friendly community goes back to 2005 when part of the land went to the state and became a reserve. To remain faithful to its rural roots, the developers wanted to ensure that this town would be sustainable.
The whole concept is pretty amazing. Everything will be homegrown and each home buyer has the option to add rooftop solar panels to their home. The solar power comes from FPL’s Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center on the north end of town. Regardless if residents choose to get panels or not, the community starts with a net-zero energy demand, so residents will have peace of mind knowing they can use the same amount of energy, but it will cost less and be more energy efficient.
Each neighborhood will have its garden center to grow local produce. Babcock Ranch also has local cowboys who raise their grass fed cattle ensuring the meat is always fresh and locally sourced. The Ranch even has it’s own water purification system which will help conserve resources within the town.
We got to taste a couple of dishes from the Ranch’s restaurant ‘Table & Taps’; its menu focuses on fresh food that is prepared with care as there is no rush to meet a commercial quota. Their pork belly, which was delicious, was slow cooked for almost 14 hours and even the fried goat cheese had a distinctly fresh taste.
For families with children, Babcock Ranch’s K-8 school will be open to Lee County and Port Charlotte residents in Fall 2017. The school is already full for the first semester which will have a green-STEAM education model that will be focusing science, technology, mathematics, engineering, math, and art.
Many locals have already begun the application process hoping the be the first ones to move into this unique community. The first couple will start moving in by the end of May. Babcock Ranch has a full array of housing options from apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes.
Babcock Ranch will be the first solar-powered community in the United States, and we are excited that it will be housed right here in Southwest Florida. Still, there are environmentalist groups who opposed the project from the beginning arguing that the 17,000-acre community is located in a zone that links wildlife corridors all the way from the central part of the state to the coast.
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