Developers say their homes’ ‘timeless regional architectural styles conjure a pleasing sense of familiarity’ (Kitson & Partners)

Work starts on ‘world’s first solar powered town’ in Florida, USA

12 May 2016 | By GCR Staff 0 Comments

Its developers say it will be the most sustainable, most innovative and healthiest new town in the US.

Located in sunny southwest Florida, Babcock Ranch is not only the nation’s largest development currently underway, but it will also be “the first town primarily powered by the sun”, say self-styled ‘town-makers’, Kitson & Partners.

“Babcock Ranch will exemplify what it means to be a town of the future. The first residents will be settling into a whole new way of life—one that is conscientious, engaging and connected”– Syd Kitson, Kitson & Partners' CEO

Led by former professional American football player, Syd Kitson, plans for the town were first submitted in 2006 but his vision was temporarily derailed in 2009 by the global financial crisis.

But last month on 22 April Kitson & Partners hosted a “grand reveal” for work on the first, 1,100-home phase of the town, located on a 17,000-acre site Kitson owns amongst state conservation areas.

As well as houses, the phase 1 downtown district will have a “wellness centre”, a market café, lakeside restaurant, educational facilities and an outdoor outfitters for hikers.

When the town is completed, it will comprise 19,500 residences and 6 million square feet of commercial and community space, with more than half of the total land reserved for green spaces and lakes.

Ultimately up to 50,000 residents will call Babcock Ranch home, the developers claim.

Powering it all will be a 74.5-megawatt solar power plant covering 443 acres to soak up the Florida sun, due to be completed and hooked up to the grid operated by Florida Power & Light (FPL), a state-wide utility, by the end of the year.

Powering it all will be a 74.5-megawatt solar power plant covering 443 acres to soak up the Florida sun (Kitson & Partners)

The plant, called the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, won’t power the town directly, but it is expected to produce more power than the homes and buildings will need.

Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO, said: “The FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center will further enhance our position as one of the cleanest utilities in the nation, while keeping FPL customer bills about 30 percent below the national average.”

Kitson’s company first purchased the extensive, 91,000-acre Babcock Ranch in 2006 for more than $500m from a family that had owned the property. His development plans met opposition from conservationists, but as part of the agreement, on the same day, Kitson sold 74,000 acres to the state of Florida, which turned it into a nature preserve.

“Babcock Ranch will exemplify what it means to be a town of the future,” says Syd Kitson, CEO of developer Kitson & Partners, in a press release. “The first residents will be settling into a whole new way of life—one that is conscientious, engaging and connected.”

Top image: Developers say their homes’ ‘timeless regional architectural styles conjure a pleasing sense of familiarity’ (Kitson & Partners)