February 02,2017 - Founder’s Square The heart of Babcock Ranch
The band shell that will host concerts for those gathered on an inviting green has been completed. On the opposite side of the green, a splash pad is nearly finished and waiting to hear the playful laughter of children of all ages. Benches that offer inviting places to relax, read, have conversations with friends, or enjoy views of Lake Babcock have been installed. A lakefront boardwalk at the northern edge of the green beckons the young and the young at heart to take a stroll along the lake or, perhaps, to rent a kayak, paddle board, or row boat and enjoy being on the water. This is Founder’s Square, the 13-acre heart of the Downtown District at Babcock Ranch, a new eco-centric town being built by Kitson & Partners in Charlotte County just 20 minutes east of Fort Myers off Florida State Road 31. Babcock Ranch is the first solar powered town in the world and will include 19,500 homes, nearly 50,000 residents, and 6 million square feet of commercial space.Kitson’s approach at Babcock Ranch is focused on creating a sense of place that will be embraced by residents and visitors alike. Founder’s Square epitomizes that vision. It will serve as Babcock’s central gathering place, the site of community events and celebrations, and the anchor for every aspect of life in the new town.
Visitors will stop by the information center at Woodlea Hall, Babcock’s first civic building scheduled to be completed in late February on the western edge of Founder’s Square. Hikers, bikers, kayakers, boaters, and fishing enthusiasts will enjoy Curry Creek Outfitters next door to Woodlea Hall. The lakefront Table & Tap restaurant also scheduled for completion late this month includes indoor and outdoor dining and a beer garden adjacent to the green at Founder’s Square. A towering 80-year old oak tree transplanted from the Babcock property provides a backdrop for the beer garden. Aspiring and rejuvenated entrepreneurs will congregate at the Hatchery’s Encore Career Center, a place to share ideas and create new enterprises. A market offering a coffee shop, grab and go items, and an ice cream shop is slated for completion in July. The Babcock Neighborhood School will open in the fall of 2017 across the street from Founder’s Square. And a Wellness Center is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018 on the eastern edge of the Square. Whether it’s relaxation, playing, celebrations, information, dining, commerce, education, or wellness, Founder’s Square is the place to be at Babcock Ranch.
But Founder’s Square is more than just the place to be. It is a true center of town, that place where all facets of life are shared and lifelong memories are created. It will be the place where babies experience the tasty chill of ice cream for the first time, where their older siblings pop a balloon on the 4th of July, where middle school boys and girls stumble through conversations over a soda, and where high school boys attempt to impress their dates while dining at Table & Tap. Inspired ideas and business decisions will be discussed over a glass of wine and dinner at the restaurant. Families will come to the Square to enjoy music, play on the splash pad, or throw a Frisbee while creating moments that will never fade. Their neighbors will arrive by bike or on foot to share good times as only true neighbors can. Moonlit proposals will be made on the green or the lakefront promenade. Hikers, bikers, kayakers, and workout enthusiasts will encourage one another over coffee while enjoying lakeside breezes. Empty nesters and retirees will walk hand-in-hand along the boardwalk, laughing over recollections of a life well lived and in anticipation of their next adventure. First time visitors to the information center will feel the Square’s embrace and know they have arrived at a special moment in time. Founder’s Square will be a place where people come to engage and share those unique aspects of life that matter to them on a personal level and that will rarely be forgotten.
Kitson’s development model at Babcock Ranch is sometimes difficult for residents of Southwest Florida to comprehend. Babcock Ranch is a town, not a gated community. By definition, a town is open to all and seeks to create a better life for its residents. Founder’s Square is an essential component in Kitson’s approach to town making at Babcock. The level of personal engagement visitors and residents will experience at Founder’s Square is also embedded in Babcock’s neighborhoods. The town’s architectural styles contribute to the sense of place Kitson is creating and eschew the styles that emphasize backyard living that isolates neighbors from one another. The Babcock style is found in pre-World War II neighborhoods in Fort Myers, Naples, and Southwest Florida. Deep porches characteristic of these regional styles typically run the length of the front facade and sometimes wrap around the sides of the house. These design principles are applied to the town’s architectural styles – Craftsman, Farmhouse, Coastal Gulf Vernacular, Spanish, and Colonial/ West Indies. Grouped around parks and streetscapes, the homes and their porches will be positioned tighter to the street to encourage the interaction and sense of belonging that are the essence of Babcock Ranch. Founder’s Square carries that notion onto a day-to-day platform that will resonate even more vividly as families and neighbors create lasting memories together.
To learn more about the eco-centric, solar powered town being created by Kitson & Partners at Babcock Ranch, visit babcockranch.com. ¦