Florida eco-friendly town opens for business

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PUNTA GORDA, United States, March 22, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – With a farm-to-table restaurant, driverless shuttles, homes built with the latest green techniques and a massive solar farm to offset energy use, Florida’s first sustainable town is now open for business.

The buzz about Babcock Ranch, an eco-friendly city of the future and the largest development of its kind in the United States, drew more than 15,000 people out this month for a peek.

“We are building a new town from the ground up and that just doesn’t happen very often,” said Syd Kitson, a retired American football player who dreamed up the vision for Babcock Ranch over a decade ago.

“We can do it right from the very beginning, and that is what we have set out to do,” he told AFP.

Kitson bought the 93,000-acre (38,000-hectare) ranch in southwestern Florida in 2006.

He sold most of the land to the state as a wildlife preserve, keeping 18,000 acres for his plan to build an environmentally friendly town on one half, setting aside the other half for open spaces and nature.

Then, the global financial crisis struck in 2007 and Kitson’s plans ground to a halt.

But as the economy recovered, builders regained interest in the project and began purchasing parcels.

Momentum began to accelerate in the last few years.

Bulldozers are still a common sight and vast empty spaces remain, but builders are hard at work erecting homes that in the next two decades will host a community of some 50,000 people.

“The first phase is going much quicker than we thought,” Kitson said.

“You are going to see a lot of people living here very, very quickly.”

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