When Hurricane Ian decimated the west coast of the Florida peninsula in late September 2022, virtually wiping out Ft. Meyers, the community called Babcock Ranch, to its immediate north, came through with hardly a scratch. How could that be? Apparently the community was designed for success – by former Green Bay Packer lineman, Syd Kitson of Kitson and Partners! It was meant to accommodate Florida’s climate and ecosystem, offering some forward-thinking features:
- indigenous plants and natural waterways for drainage
- built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to help mitigate flooding from storm surges
- sustainable water and sewage systems
- all electric and phone lines buried
Interviewed on 60 Minutes, Kitson said, “We are the first solar-powered town in America. We have a solar field that’s 150 megawatts.” The solar field “features a massive solar array of 700,000 panels, built by Florida Power and Light. Those panels withstood Ian’s brutal beating.
“There’s a lot of water, but you don’t see a single panel that’s been dislodged. And there was quite a bit of wind that came through here over the last few days,” Kitson reported. “Gusts of over 150, and it did not take a single panel out of here, which is really just remarkable.”
Babcock Ranch community was planned to be the first solar-powered city in the country, expecting to have the world’s largest solar power array when completed. Commercial buildings and homes were designed to be energy efficient and constructed to the standards of the Florida Green Building Coalition. A tech center with an emphasis on research and development for clean energy was a key feature at Babcock Ranch from the outset.
The message is clear: Instead of climate denial, Syd Kitson has capitalized on climate change in his development. Now, through proof of his success, he has the opportunity to maximize his growth on real estate development – a huge win for him and his home owners, whose equity increased nearly overnight due to his foresight in development. This is a prime example of a foresight strategy – out of the box early.
Learn more here: Babcock Branch Real Estate and “Babcock Ranch: Solar-powered “hurricane-proof” town takes direct hit from Hurricane Ian, never loses electricity”