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Tour of Babcock Ranch, America’s First Solar Powered Town

I’ve been waiting for a tour of Babcock Ranch since their ribbon cutting ceremony on my wedding weekend… seeing all the exciting activities going on and felt that tinge of FOMO, “Fear Of Missing Out”(apparently that’s a real thing these days). This past weekend I got the chance!

The town is just getting off the ground… 12 homes have been sold-to-date. I had the opportunity to tour their models, get a guided tour of the community (they do this in solar cars now but their first driverless car is being delivered here soon!) and dine at their restaurant, Table & Tap. Check out my photos below with some key highlights

Tour of Babcock Ranch

Babcock Ranch is a new town, located along Highway 31 in Southwest Florida, located about 45 minutes to the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel an about 40 minutes to Southwest Florida Regional Airport. It is being developed by Kitson & Partners. You can take your own tour of Babcock Ranch Monday thru Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm.

About 20% of the town is located in Lee County and the northern 80% is across the Charlotte County line. It’s in the northern-most portion of the Ranch where Kitson donated 450 acres to Florida Power & Light to build a 75 megawatt solar energy facility, powered by natural gas. The solar power line runs down Hwy-31 and comes to the Ranch first. All remaining energy left over will go to the FPL Plant in Fort Myers to be distributed to other customers.

As a result of this solar energy facility, Babcock Ranch will leave a net zero carbon footprint. The town is ecologically minded and technologically advanced. There are charging stations on solar trees (see photo) where anyone can plug into and charge their iPads, cell phones and laptops.

Lake Babcock is a 268-acre lake facing Founder’s Square (center of town) and has a floating dock with public boat ramps. Residents and visitors are welcome to launch their boats into the lake, but no combustible engines are allowed. All watercraft must be man, wind or electric-powered. And in case you’re wondering, swimming is not allowed because of alligators. Remember, this is adjacent to a preserve where many animals call home! Protection of the preserve is the reason why combustible engines are not allowed… and town planners have carefully considered their environmental impact and made many precautions to both restore and maintain the natural beauty of the land. All building products are green-certified.

Babcock Ranch has been 10 years in-the-making. It will be another 20-25 years before the town is completed. Upon completion, there will be 19,500 residences (single family homes, condos and villas), 6,000,000 square feet of community space, and 7 different villages. I can’t wait to see what’s changed on my next tour of Babcock Ranch!

Solar Car for Community Tour of Babcock Ranch

Solar Car for Tour of Babcock Ranch… First Driverless Cars Coming Soon!

Solar Tree in Park by Lake Babcock at Babcock Ranch

Solar Tree in Park by Lake Babcock (where you can charge your electronic devices!)

Is Babcock Ranch a Gated Community or a Town?

Babcock Ranch is NOT a gated community, although there may be gated villages within it.

Babcock Ranch IS a town, and is being developed with a school, doctors, business centers, stores, grocery stores, restaurants and events which are all open to the public. Eventually they will even have a marina with hotel and restaurants, and two golf courses!

There is a Homeowners Association (HOA) named Babcock Ranch Residential Association (BRRAI) with current fees of $140/month. The Association provides professional on-site management services, amenities (lake house and pool, trail system, community gardens) and lightning-fast 1G fiber-optic cable service from CenturyLink to every household.

Babcock Ranch is an Independent Special District (ISD), a local unit of special government that is responsible for construction and maintenance of infrastructure a facilities that are open and accessible to the general public. The only other ISD in the state of Florida is Buena Vista, which was created by Walt Disney.

Homeowners will pay a debt service and an annual fee. The debt service will be billed on their ad valorem taxes  and is each homeowner’s contribution toward the development of roads, sidewalks and common amenities. The annual fee is for the operation and maintenance of common areas. The debt service fee will remain constant, and be based on lot size. The annual fee may vary over time, according to the number of homeowners and the expenses to be covered.

Homes at Babcock Ranch

All homes at Babcock Ranch will have large wrap-around porches which helps keep the sunlight from heating home interiors (to save on cooling bills). Before air conditioning was prevalent, most homes in Florida were built this way in order to keep the homes cool.

Having the wrap-around porches also supports the vision of the founders to create an authentic community where neighbors take time to relax and to interact with each other. It’s an intentional pushback against the cookie-cutter-typical-Florida-HOA-community with Mediterranean-style homes, front-load garages and private lanais… where we all drive our cars into the garage, close the door and go out back to spend time alone or privately with our families.

Although homes at Babcock Ranch also have private lanai areas (gorgeous ones at that!) they also have quaint porches and sitting areas… accommodating the desires for both community and privacy. Some homes even have alleys with rear-load garages!

At the time of my tour of Babcock Ranch, 12 homes had been purchased… in fact, the first resident is set to move in by this Thanksgiving.

Lanai with Lake View at Babcock Ranch

Private Lanai with Pool and Outdoor Bar

Model Home Porch at Babcock Ranch

Front Porch with Swing at Model Home

 

There’s So Much More…

There’s so much more I can tell you from my tour of Babcock Ranch… about the history of the cattle ranch, the founders and their vision, their business practices, and their solar technology… if you’d like to learn more about the Ranch, visit their website at www.babcockranch.com.

Wondering if this is the right community for you? Tell Stacey your vision for your life in Florida and she can make additional recommendations so you can compare your options and make an informed decision!