April 09, 2009
We're talking super green here. One hundred percent of the city's energy will come from the sun. Electric cars will have charging stations all over the city. It'll co-exist with thousands of acres of the natural Florida landscape. It will all be greener than The Incredible Hulk's pinky toe.
And it's all being put together by, of all people, a former NFL lineman. Syd Kitson, a guard out of Wake Forest, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1980 and had a six-year NFL career. In his career, he made 0 Pro Bowls, was never an All-Pro, and racked up 1 career reception for 9 yards, as well as 1 kick return for 0 yards. He is not, nor will he ever be, an NFL Hall of Famer.
But if there's some kind of tree-hugging hall of fame, he could end up there. His dream is extremely ambitious (some might say "unrealistic"), but he believes it could happen. Here's the upside and the downside, from a Michael Grunwald article for Time:
An NFL lineman turned visionary developer today is unveiling startlingly ambitious plans for a solar-powered city of tomorrow in southwest Florida's outback, featuring the world's largest photovoltaic solar plant, a truly smart power grid, recharging stations for electric vehicles and a variety of other green innovations. The community of Babcock Ranch is designed to break new frontiers in sustainable development, quite a shift for a state that has never been sustainable, and lately hasn't had much development.
The history of Florida is littered with spectacular, landscape-changing proposals that never made it past the drawing board. The watery wisp of Everglades National Park known as Flamingo, population zero, was once touted as the next Chicago. Kitson's financial partner, Morgan Stanley, has had a rough time lately, and some locals remain skeptical that he can turn his $2 billion green vision into reality. "We've been hearing a lot of very exciting ideas, but we have no idea how this is actually going to happen," says Conservancy of Southwest Florida CEO Andrew McElwaine.
And here's the website for the ambitious project. There's a pretty snazzy intro video that you should check out, starring Kitson, and explaining what the city's all about.
I haven't been studying Florida's economic growth potential as diligently as I should be, so I have no idea if this is something that can actually be accomplished or not. I applaud Kitson and his efforts, though, and I wish him all the luck in the world. I hope Babcock Ranch gets up and running soon enough that they can take the Jaguars when they finally decide they have to leave Jacksonville.
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