JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER | DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
When Syd Kitson set out to create Babcock Ranch, he wanted to prove that growth and sustainability could go hand in hand.
Thirteen years later, his vision is a reality. And Kitson, the chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, said the Southwest Florida community is a model for what smart development can look like going forward.
“All these things that we’re talking about are what create community,” said Kitson. “Babcock Ranch doesn’t have gates. This is truly a town.”
Kitson talked about his vision for creating Babcock Ranch during the August 14 Wake Up Naples at Hilton Naples. In his 45-minute conversation with Naples City Manager Charles Chapman, Kitson discussed the process of building a town from the ground up, the importance of preservation and how to create community.
“One of the things we wanted Babcock Ranch to be was multi-generational,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be a bunch of old people like me. We wanted to have that great mix of people.”
The best way to attract young people: Build a school. That was one of the first things Kitson did, at the urging of former Gov. Jeb Bush, a member of the Babcock Ranch board. It proved to be a smart decision. The school quickly had a waiting list and has since moved to a larger location.
Kitson said Babcock Ranch has incorporated a variety of other features, including community gardens and free Wi-Fi outside, to make the town attractive to all types of residents. His team is focused heavily on solar power, becoming the first all solar community in nation, and autonomous vehicles.
These measures have helped achieve the goal of attracting a wide variety of residents. Kitson said more than half the buyers are young families, and a fair share of them work in the community.
Kitson encouraged landowners, developers and governments to “work in partnership” to ensure sustainable communities can flourish in the future.
“I think what Babcock Ranch is proving … is that people what that kind of living,” he said.
To register for future Wake Up Naples breakfast events visit www.napleschamber.org/wakeupnaples