Babcock Ranch Was Designed To Be Sustainable & Resilient. Hurricane Ian Was Its First Real Test.

25 October 2022 | Lisa Hall

Babcock Ranch and Punta Gorda both survived Hurricane Ian with little damage, thanks to robust building codes and good planning.

In 2006, Syd Kitson, a retired professional football player, purchased the former Babcock Ranch — all 91,000 acres of it. Located about 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, the land was far enough for the Gulf of Mexico to be reasonably well protected from the powerful storms and hurricanes that happen frequently along Florida’s Gulf coast. Kitson’s vision was to create the most resilient and sustainable community in all of Florida — a daunting task considering how often that peninsular of land is battered by extreme weather events.

The first thing Kitson did was sell 73,000 acres to the state of  Florida for a wildlife preserve. The second thing he did was donate 440 acres to Florida Power & Light to be used to build a solar power plant. Today there are thousands of homes in Babcock Ranch, which calls itself “America’s first solar powered town.” The 700,000 solar panels generate more electricity than the community needs and the excess goes to power other FPL customers.

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