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April 04,2017 - Crowds Attracted to Babcock Ranch
Fort Myers Press

The News-Press Published 1:23 p.m. ET March 22, 2017 | Updated 2:29 p.m. ET March 30, 2017

SOLAR POWER A POWERFUL  ATTRACTION FOR BABCOCK RANCH

Over the past year, the nation’s most innovative, sustainable new community has been taking root just beyond the front gates of Babcock Ranch. Master Developer Kitson & Partners has now put out the welcome mat for the public to come experience this new hometown in the making, and the response is unprecedented.

Organizers of Founders Festival held March 11-12 hoped to attract around 2,500 people each day for the first public event at Babcock Ranch.  Law enforcement officials estimate turnout over the course of the weekend was between 15,000 – 20,000.

“We knew people were excited about the concept of a sustainable, solar-powered town where people can reconnect with the environment and with each other,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners.  “What we learned this weekend is that we have clearly struck a chord.”

The weekend kicked off with 10k, 5k and 1k events that attracted nearly 600 entrants.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first two buildings at Founder’s Square was followed by a full day of live music and family activities.  While some checked out kayaks and paddleboards to enjoy Lake Babcock, others cast lines from the fishing pier or hiked trails.  But tours of model homes were the most popular activity.

 “It was unlike anything I have ever experienced with a community opening,” said Kitt Kearney, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Homes by Towne.  “There were literally people waiting in line to get in.  Many said they have been watching Babcock Ranch for a long time. They were excited that it is finally here and happy that they can now buy homes to live here.”

Stock Development had four models open for viewing.  “It was great to see people of all age levels, from young families all the way through empty nesters so excited by the idea of a more active lifestyle in a multi-generational home town,” said Claudine Wetzel, Vice President of Sales & Marketing.  “We had people come from as far south as Naples and all the way north to Sarasota and they were energized about all this community has to offer.”

 “Between Saturday and Sunday we must have had at least nine thousand people through our Taylor model, all anxious to learn about the first solar-powered town in the USA and what that meant to them,” said Bill Ennen, President, Florida Lifestyle Homes, Inc.  “I can honestly say I received only one negative comment and that was the direction of the floor tile I had laid in the master bath was wrong in their opinion. Other than that, nothing but positive comments about Babcock Ranch.”

Buyers in the first neighborhood of Lake Timber will choose from a broad range of home styles and floor plans from five different builders – Stock Development, Homes by Town, Florida Lifestyle Homes, Fox Premier Builders and Castle Harbour Homes.

“I think the takeaway for us is a realization that if you build a dream that becomes reality, people will come,” said Meryl Rojas, director of sales and marketing for Fox Premier Builders.  “The visitors we met with were impressed with our serious approach to the environmental sensibilities and energy efficiency standards that Babcock Ranch represents.”

Castle Harbour Homes set up a tent to provide information on models that will be underway soon.  “This is the largest community opening this area has ever seen, and many of those who came out weren’t just here out of curiosity,” Baublis said.  “We came away with about 10 good leads.”

Babcock Ranch just finalized an agreement with Lennar to build a second neighborhood of approximately 180 homes located just southeast of Founders Square.  The mix of split villas at prices starting around $180,000 and single-family homes from the $220s will expand access to the environmentally friendly, front-porch oriented lifestyle offered by Babcock Ranch.

The first seven of fifteen model homes planned for Lake Timber were open for viewing during the opening weekend.  Many more will be completed in the coming weeks.  The good news is you don’t have to brave massive crowds to keep tabs on progress.  The gates are wide open and the public is welcome to tour model homes, eat at the Table & Tap restaurant, launch outdoor adventures at Curry Creek Outfitters or enjoy the trails and lakes seven days a week.

As the sun set on the first public event at Babcock Ranch, the crowds thinned and the buzz of activity settled into an inspirational hum at Founder’s Square.  Music lovers kicked back on the lawn to enjoy the final set of a great local band as families enjoyed some friendly corn-hole competition and kayakers on Lake Babcock headed back to the dock.  Others watched with a drink in hand from the porch of Table & Tap as youngsters romped in the splash fountain.

“This is what it is all about,” Kitson said.  “It is unbelievably satisfying to see all that we have been talking about over the past 12 years coming to life right before our eyes.  There’s much more to come, but it is a thrill to be able to open up the gates for everyone to witness the birth of a new hometown.”

What’s Next

The community discovery center, model homes, Curry Creek Outfitters and Table & Tap Restaurant are open 7 days a week.  Visit www.BabcockRanch.com for schedule of weekly events starting March 25th.

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