Courtesy Tina Matte

Babcock Ranch, the world’s first solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31, commemorated the town’s official grand opening with a celebration that featured tours of 20 furnished model homes and FPL’s Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, where a newly constructed observation platform provides sweeping views of the 440-acre solar field.

The day-long festivities, which opened with a parade led by students from Babcock Neighborhood School and ended with a fireworks display, drew more than 8,000 visitors.

“Our guests were very interested in learning more about the technology and innovations that power the town, like the autonomous vehicles, the gigabyte of fiber to every home, and of course the Solar Energy Center,” said Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, developers of Babcock Ranch. “They also really enjoyed the electric boats on Lake Babcock.”

With a focus on front-porch living as part of its social infrastructure, Babcock Ranch also embraces health and wellness as a core value – a commitment embodied in Lee Health’s Healthy Life Center in Founder’s Square, which opened its doors to the public for the first time during the grand opening celebration.

In addition to a full day of fun activities and competitions, Lee Health representatives offered membership information and tours of the 26,407-square-foot facility, featuring state-of-the art fitness equipment, a half-court gymnasium, mind and body programs, massage and physical therapy, the ReCharge Juice Co., and an outdoor pool for water aerobics and other group and individual activities. Lee Physician Group is completing offices in the Healthy Life Center that will open this summer, with primary care physicians and rotating specialists.

“The Healthy Life Center complements everything we’re doing at Babcock Ranch to promote community-wide health and a true hometown experience,” Kitson said.

Throughout the grand opening event, guests enjoyed a Builders Showcase with representatives from seven homebuilders, as well as arts and craft vendors, food trucks, a farmers market, and free activities and entertainment. An acoustic guitar performance complemented the opening of The Oak at Table & Tap restaurant, a casual outdoor venue under the shade of a decades-old live oak tree. Other musical performances included the Riverdale High School marching band, a barbershop quartet and the South Florida dance band Soul Survivors II. The event concluded with a grand fireworks finale over Lake Babcock.

Babcock Ranch was created by Kitson & Partners with respect for the natural environment and the philosophy that smart growth and sustainability work hand in hand. Half of the town’s 18,000-acre footprint is set aside as greenways, parks and expansive lakes, providing recreation and scenic backdrops for Babcock Ranch’s homes and the Founder’s Square downtown district.

Babcock Ranch promotes healthy living through a walkable community plan, 50 miles of planned biking and hiking trails, interconnected lakes for paddling enthusiasts, a robust calendar of exercise classes, and the Healthy Life Center operated by Lee Health.

Table & Tap restaurant, Slater’s Goods and Provisions, Square Scoops Coffee & Creamery, Curry Creek Outfitters, and Babcock Neighborhood School welcomed the greater community to Founder’s Square even before the arrival of the town’s first residents in early January. A sprawling downtown park offers a lakefront bandshell, boardwalk, covered pavilions, and charging stations for electronics, including cars. The autonomous shuttle – part of the town’s mobility plan – provides transportation between homes and Founder’s Square.

Babcock Ranch has seven homebuilders offering more than 50 home designs including twin villas, cottages, single-family executive, manor and custom homes featuring one- and two-story plans, two to six bedrooms, and 1,400 to 4,761 square feet of living space. Homes appeal to young millennials, families, empty nesters and retirees alike, with prices ranging from the low $190,000s to $1 million. Homes are built to Florida Green Building Coalition standards, emphasizing energy and water conservation.

More than 30 model and quick-delivery homes are now open or under construction by Castle Harbour Homes, Florida Lifestyle Homes, Fox Premier Builders, Homes by Towne, Lennar, Pulte and Stock Classic Homes. Many models are open for viewing daily.

For more information about Southwest Florida’s new hometown, visit the Discovery Center at 42850 Crescent Loop in Babcock Ranch, call 877-709-6620, or visit

Tina Matte, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR, 239-275-5758,