August 04, 2017

As Babcock Ranch adds builder, CEO Kitson talks future

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

CASEY LOGAN, CLOGAN@NEWS-PRESS.COM Published 7:00 a.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017 | Updated 7:59 a.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017

It may be early August, but Babcock Ranch is preparing for season, the time of year home sales spike as snowbirds and visitors flood Southwest Florida.

Pulte Homes is joining the ranks of builders in the solar-powered town taking shape off State Road 31 along the Charlotte and Lee county line. Pulte is the second major national builder at the development, which also features five regional builders.

The Arbordale by Pulte Homes at Babcock Ranch

The community will offer homes — each with a gigabyte of fiber-optic connectivity — within walking distance of restaurants, shops and a school.

Pulte will unveil a variety of floor plans starting in the $200,000s, a price expected to attract young families and empty nesters.

Pulte Homes

Some of the features Pulte is using in its home designs to maximize efficiency are LED lighting, double-pane low thermal emissivity windows and tankless water heaters.

“Across the country we have been testing and implementing innovative energy solutions and sustainable practices, said Rich McCormick, president of PulteGroup’s Southwest Florida division. “Our goal is to build more energy-efficient homes that effectively balance constructability, cost and quality.”

The expansion of the builder lineup is by design, said Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson Partners, developer of Babcock Ranch.

Babcock started with builders such as Castle Harbour Homes, Fox Premiere Builders, Homes by Towne, Stock Development and Florida Lifestyle Homes. It added Lennar, a national builder, in March.

“We signed Lennar and now we just signed Pulte, and hopefully we’re going to get a couple of more along with our other builders,” Kitson said. “This could be a very good season for us.”

Pulte will build a new neighborhood called Parkside at Babcock Ranch, southeast of Founder’s Square, the town center. It will include more than 150 homes on 50-foot lots priced in the $200s to mid-$300s. The neighborhood is adjacent to a community park and the neighborhood being built by Lennar.

The Summerwood design by Pulte Homes at Babcock Ranch

“Over time there will be numerous builders to come in and out of Babcock Ranch,” Kitson said. “We have six or seven builders active and that will probably increase to eight, nine, maybe 10 over the next year.”

Lennar is expected to build a mix of twin villas and single-family homes in a neighborhood of 180 homes. Twin villas will start near $180,000, with single-family homes starting in the $220s.

“Pulte and Lennar have worked very well together on adjacent projects in the past and we are looking forward to similar success here,” said Rick Severance, president of Babcock Ranch. “Their two neighborhoods complement each other.”

Babcock at build-out is expected to have 19,500 homes and 6 million square feet of commercial space. It is projected to eventually be home to more than 50,000 people, likely 20 to 25 years from now.

Having this many builders provides for a wider array of offerings at different price points, Kitson said. Higher-end builders that offer more customization are constructing the first neighborhood, near the entrance to the community.

“It gives a really good first impression,” Kitson said.

Those pricier homes start in the $350,000-$400,000 range and reach as high as $900,000. The less costly homes will be deeper inside the town.

Band Shell Performers

“That’s important because a good majority of people want to be in that range,” Kitson said. “That’s kind of the sweet spot, that $200,000 to $400,000 price range.”

Rental apartments are expected to come to the community next year.

“It fulfills one of our promises, to have a broad stratification of pricing and products,” he said. “We also hope to introduce more of a 55 and up community over the next several months. That would be the final product type for this coming season that we hope to offer.”

Kitson declined to say how many homes have been sold to date, but noted that many deals are in discussions or under contract.

“We’ll release those later on,” he said. “It’s going well. We’re very pleased.”

Babcock’s first residents are expected to move in early next year, the same time frame the buildings in Founder’s Square are expected to be finished.

The neighborhood school will open later this month with 156 students, while the general store should also open by month’s end.

“The only building left in Founder’s Square is the wellness center, which is well under construction,” he said.

In the meantime, folks can come out to tour the existing model homes and dine at the restaurant, the Table & Tap.

Babcock-watchers should be on the lookout for two events: a “pre-construction opening” in the fall and an open house in the first part of 2018.

“We’re going to have a big open house early next year, probably in February,” Kitson said. “That will be the real opening of Babcock Ranch.”

babcock ranch

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