After making their fortune in the Spotted Horse gold mines of Fergus County, Montana, the Perry McAdow family took to Southwest Florida’s warmer climes and purchased what is now Babcock Ranch in the late 1800’s. After settling at what they called the Crescent B Ranch, the family made their mark.
Punta Gorda Bank Chartered
By June, 1899, the Punta Gorda Bank was chartered by the state with capital of $15,000 and Perry Wadsworth McAdow as president. A one-story, brick façade corner storefront housed the bank with Earnest Dry Goods, the Punta Gorda Trading Company, Wade’s Drug Store, and McAdow Hall filling the remainder of the building. An avid horticulturalist, Mrs. McAdow proceeded to beautify downtown Punta Gorda.
Previous Land Use
In 1914, the 91,000-acre Crescent B Ranch was acquired by Edward Babcock, a Pittsburgh lumber magnate and politician. The renamed Babcock Ranch served as the base for the family’s timber business, the most prominent end-users being the diamond mines in South Africa that used the pine-based pitch to ward off termites. By the 1930’s, Edward’s son Fred was managing the property and it’s numerous business operations, including: Tree Farming, Rock Mining, Vegetable Farming, Alligator, Farming, Experimental, Ostrich, Breeding, Swamp Buggy Tours, and Hunting Leases.
After Fred’s death in 1997, the heirs attempted to sell the property to the state.
2005 - 2009
The Early Years
On July 31, 2006, Kitson & Partners closed on the purchase of the 91,000-acre ranch from the Babcock family and then sold 73,000 acres to the state for permanent preservation. It was the largest land preservation deal in all of Florida’s history. Our plans for Babcock Ranch were to prove that smart growth and preservation can work together. In 2005 and 2006, Florida was growing at an unprecedented rate. Population growth rates hovered around 17% and incredible demand drove real estate prices through the roof. With homes selling as fast as they were built, there wasn’t much incentive for change. Smart growth in Florida was key, which we knew then and we know now. The real estate market plunged in 2007 and it delayed our timeline. But through it all, the vision for Babcock Ranch never wavered.
FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center Groundbreaking
The FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center broke ground in October 2015. The last of the more than 300,000 solar panels was installed a year later, and the 74.5MW solar generating completed testing and went online on December 31, 2016.
Kitson & Partners Groundbreaking
During ten years of engineering and planning, Kitson & Partners moved forward with work to fulfill environmental commitments including construction of a weir system to rehydrate wetlands and restore historic flow-ways. In November 2015, work on the new town finally got underway. Underground utilities including water, “grey water” and sewer lines were already in place and the first roads were ready for paving prior to the Earth Day Grand Reveal celebration on April 22, 2016.
Earth Day 2016 was a historic day for Babcock Ranch. We unveiled our plans to the world for Babcock Ranch and all it will include. Syd Kitson, the leader behind Babcock Ranch’s development, spoke about the vision and future for Babcock Ranch. Introduced as the nation’s first town to run on solar, guests were introduced to the timelines and concepts for Babcock Ranch.
Founder's Square Groundbreaking
Groundbreaking for a lakeside restaurant, Table & Tap, launched construction at Founder's Square. The lakefront anchor of a downtown district that will extend to the south is the hub of social activity at Babcock Ranch.
Babcock Ranch Foundation Forms
The Babcock Ranch Foundation, Inc. was created in the summer of 2016 as a tax-exempt Florida non-profit to support initiatives and partnerships that enhance, enrich and create projects and activities for the benefit of the greater Babcock Ranch Community, Babcock Ranch Preserve, and the broader Southwest Florida region.
Model Homes Groundbreaking
Fox Premier Builders, Stock Development, Florida Lifestyle Homes, and Homes by Towne joined at Babcock Ranch to break ground on their model homes in Babock Ranch’s first neighborhood, Lake Timber.
Babcock Neighborhood School Groundbreaking
Community leaders joined future students to launch construction of Babcock Neighborhood School. The public K-8 charter school unveiled plans for an innovation great STEAM curriculum.
Babcock Neighborhood School Opening
BNS offers a “place-based” environmentally focused “greenSTEAM” educational program that integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics within a thoughtfully provided holistic learning environment.
Self-Driving Shuttle Program
Babcock Ranch forms joint venture partnership with Transdev to introduce a driverless shuttle system. In January 2018, demonstrations launch for the public to ride through a set route from Founder's Square through Lake Timber neighborhood and back. The innovative transportation embraces advanced and developing technologies to provide environmentally-friendly ways to navigate around town that are more convenient and affordable than driving a car. In addition to running along set routes, the program will evolve to an on-demand transportation system that can be scheduled via an app on smart phones.
FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Battery Storage
FPL released their latest groundbreaking project: combining cutting-edge batteries with a solar power plant to create the largest solar-plus-storage system operating in the U.S. to date. In addition, the 32-foot high visitor viewing tower overlooking the solar fields was officially unveiled.
A Hometown Grand Opening
On March 10, Babcock Ranch celebrated an official Hometown Grand Opening. A full day of activities including a parade with a marching band, model home trolley tours, FPL Babcock Solar Energy Center Field tours, live music, Healthy Life Center tours, Babcock Neighborhood School tours, a builder showcase, food trucks, a farmer's market, arts & crafts along the boardwalk, electric boat tours on Lake Babcock, self-driving shuttle demo rides, face painters, jugglers, magicians and a grand finale fireworks show to end the day.
Lee Health Healthy Life Center Opens
April marks the opening of Lee Health's new health and wellness facility—and lifestyle—in Founder's Square for residents of Babcock Ranch and surrounding communities.