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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 1, 2016 4 years ago

Back at the ranch

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Kitson & Partners is wasting no time since it unveiled plans for Babcock Ranch April 22.

Kitson & Partners is wasting no time since it unveiled plans for Babcock Ranch April 22.

Heavy equipment is moving tons of dirt on the first phase of what will be a town of 19,500 homes and enough commercial space to fill 52 football fields on the Charlotte and Lee County line.

Developer Syd Kitson celebrated the groundbreaking of the town square on a sweltering June morning recently, promising buildings and the first homes in the first quarter of 2017. The developer received the permits June 28.

“Here we are about to go vertical,” Kitson told a gathering at what will be called Founder's Square. “It's a huge day for us.”

Already, Kitson says 6,000 people have registered to receive information about homes for sale, including from Bonita Springs-based homebuilder WCI Communities. He says they're drawn by the fact that the community will have a focus on nature with 50 miles of trails and lakes and that it won't be gated.

It's a huge investment upfront. Roads, utilities, a school, a market, a restaurant and other amenities will be built as the first homes come out of the ground.

Two bond sales in December raised $30 million for the infrastructure, and bond documents show Kitson & Partners and Evergreen Real Estate Partners, the real estate investment arm of Chicago-based M3 Capital Partners, have invested $175 million in Babcock Ranch. Through 2019, Kitson and bond investors will spend another $125 million for the first phase, bringing to the total investment to $300 million.

“We're not building a subdivision or street,” says Thomas Hoban, president and chief investment officer of Kitson & Partners. “We're building a town.”

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