March 09, 2020

Babcock Ranch announces plans for Publix grocery store

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

David Dorsey, Fort Myers News-Press  Published 2:44 p.m. ET March 5, 2020         

Babcock Ranch, the planned community for about 50,000 residents but with fewer than 500 homes built so far, has made official the construction of a new Publix that will open in early 2021.

Publix will anchor a new, 82,540-square-foot shopping center, to be known as Crescent B Commons. Kitson & Partners, the developers of Babcock Ranch, just north of the Lee County border with Charlotte County and off State Road 31, announced the Publix would comprise 48,387 square feet and would have a drive-thru pharmacy.

Three available outparcels totaling 14,653 square feet are available for retail or restaurants.

There also will be 19,500 square feet of space with 65-foot bay depth for truck deliveries.

“It’s been a long time in the works,” said Syd Kitson, founder of Babcock Ranch and Syd Kitson & Partners, which is developing it and will own the shopping center. He said Publix signed the lease Wednesday. “We’re just glad that it’s finally done. We’re looking forward to the shopping that happens when you have a Publix. We expect this to be the first of several shopping centers — Publix shopping centers.”

A Publix anchoring the Shops at Verandah is about seven miles from Babcock Ranch’s main entrance.

But what the Publix at Crescent B Commons means is residents won’t have to leave their community to buy groceries. They won’t even have to drive on State Road 31.

“There’s direct access,” Kitson said. “It was extremely important to have that. It’s the only way we would have agreed to go forward. It had to have direct access to the entire community.

“By the time we open, we’ll have 800 or 900 rooftops here. Maybe more. We should be more than 1,000 by that time. We also are surrounded by a whole host of rooftops.”

Tom Hoban, president and chief investment officer for Kitson & Partners, said in a news release the shopping center will bring some jobs to the community.

“Crescent B Commons will align with Babcock Ranch’s design style and offer shoppers two unique, distinct outdoor seating areas to enjoy the area’s natural beauty,” Hoban said.

With Publix in the lineup, other big brands would be announced soon.

Table & Tap restaurant, Slater’s Goods & Provisions, Square Scoops Coffee & Creamery and Curry Creek Outfitters all were built in Babcock’s Founder’s Square before the first residents moved there.

Building the grocery store before the influx of residents ties in with the community’s pre-planned model.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about Babcock Ranch,” said Justin Murphy, a real estate agent with Florida Real Estate Connection in Cape Coral. He and his wife and their two daughters moved to Babcock Ranch last April, and he is specializing in the area.

Adding the Publix will add a punch to selling homes there, Murphy said.

“Is that a new gated community or a new subdivision?” Murphy said of the misconceptions. “People don’t realize there will be 50,000 people living out here someday.

“During my process of signing my own house contract, I realized I had questions for the builders. And then questions for the HOA and then questions for the town itself. I had to go to different people for different answers. I realized there’s going to be a lot of people in the same boat as me. There would be people needing some help navigating the waters.

“With a Publix actually happening here, and there’s a golf course now, it’s going to show people that this isn’t just a little place.”

Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (Facebook)@DavidADorsey (Twitter).