October 04, 2022

Babcock Ranch Makes National Headlines After Hurricane Ian

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

by Ryan Erisman
October 3, 2022

Babcock Ranch, a solar-powered community located about 12 miles inland from Fort Myers in Southwest Florida, is in the headlines at places like CNN, The Atlantic, and more after Hurricane Ian.

One of the fastest-selling communities in the nation…they had 714 new home sales in 2021…Babcock Ranch is an all-ages community (anyone can live there) but it has a lot of amenities that appeal to retirees that make up our readership here.

Why it Matters: According to community residents and the developer, the community of roughly 2,000 homes never lost power, experienced no flooding, and sustained minimal damage.

The Big Picture: The community is situated on approximately 18,000 acres, adjacent to an extensive wilderness preserve (Babcock Ranch Preserve).

An 870-acre solar farm runs through a partnership with Florida Power & Light (FPL) powers some of the community. Fiber optic internet and power lines are all run underground to minimize their susceptibility to winds and flying debris.

On this map you can see where it is in relation to Cayo Costa where Ian made landfall:

Zoom In: On the developer’s website they have a “Storm Ready” pdf highlighting some of the keys to their resiliency. Just a few of them are:

  • All development is beyond the reach of coastal storm surge – at elevations of 25 feet or more above sea level
  • The surface water management system takes advantage of the natural systems and historic drainage flow ways that have been weathering storms for years
  • Storm building codes are the key ingredients of a resilient community — Babcock Ranch requires all structures to be rated to withstand winds of up to 145 miles per hour.
  • Even the landscaping is storm ready, with heavy reliance on native plants that are best suited to withstand the Southwest Florida storm (and fire) cycles

You can see the entire pdf here.

The community even opened up its neighborhood school to evacuees.

What They’re Saying

The first article I saw Babcock Ranch’s hurricane results mentioned in was this article in the Atlantic. The writer had interviewed the Babcock Ranch developer, Syd Kitson, for an article a few years ago, and quickly caught up with him after Hurricane Ian passed through:

I ended my Cape Coral story with a trip to Babcock Ranch, a new solar-powered, smart-growth, flood-protected community a half-hour inland that was conceived as Florida’s sustainable city of the future. I checked in with the developer, Syd Kitson, after Babcock took a direct hit from Ian, and he had good news: “The power and internet never went off, no flooding and minimal damage,” Kitson wrote. “It’s everything you and I talked about several years ago.”

– Michael Grunwald writing in The Atlantic

The next day I saw an interesting spike in traffic to my Babcock Ranch community review. I did a quick search and saw this article on the homepage of CNN. About the developer, the article states:

Even Kitson chose to ride out the storm in Babcock to see how the community would fare in the hurricane. Kitson declined CNN’s request for an interview; (company spokesperson, Lisa) Hall said he is focused on helping neighboring communities rebuild. “He was there during the storm; he said, ‘where else would I be?’” Hall said. “We built it to be resilient and as much as you plan and think you’ve done the right thing, you don’t know until you put it to the test.”

Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Living in Babcock Ranch

Babcock Ranch features a variety of neighborhoods from different home builders, and prices generally range from the $300’s to over $2M. There are condos, townhouses, and single-family homes.