Florida is all about the master planned community. From its numerous Del Webb developments to Jimmy Buffet’s Latitude Margaritaville sites to the nearly 85,000 resident, three zip code-large grandaddy of them all, The Villages, MPCs are driving Florida’s non-stop growth. Tough as it might seem for a new development to establish an identity in this tough market, Babcock Ranch, located just outside Ft. Myers, Florida, is betting that its residents want more, rather than “more of the same.” To that end, they are making every home certifiably “Green” in terms of energy-efficiency; making fiber optic-based, gigabit-plus broadband service available to all residents; and, most importantly, laying claim to the distinction of being the nation’s first large-scale, net-zero, solar-powered, community, made possible by an adjacent 870-acre solar farm operated by Florida Power & Light.
It’s only fitting then, that the contractor tasked with creating the lakes and preparing the site for that cutting-edge development should, itself, be progressive in its approach to its work. Drawing upon a wealth of the latest GNSS-based solutions, Mitchell & Stark Construction (MSC) is transforming previously undeveloped acreage into the community of tomorrow using a smaller — yet far more efficient — workforce than ever, helping set the stage for Babcock Ranch to become The Sunshine State’s preeminent new community. Now that’s a master plan!
Accepting the Challenge
Established in south-central Indiana in 1955, MSC saw an opportunity for serious growth in the southern U.S. and in 1981 established a branch in Naples, Florida. Today, the company employs more than 200 company-wide and is recognized in both geographic areas as the go-to source for quality work, even when facing tough challenges. And, as MSC’s project manager, Chris Anderson (and anyone working today) will attest, challenges currently abound.
“There’s no sidestepping the fact that, as it is for everyone else, many supply chain issues are hitting us hard,” he said. “The lead time on brass needed for utility work, which used to be a month, can now be as long as six to eight months. Concrete for curbs and reinforced concrete pipe, normally products that are easy to obtain, are tough to get, forcing us to order a couple months out. In addition, the cost of standard 2,000-3,000 psi ready mix concrete, has gone up 30% in the last six months.”
He added that the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the industry is causing some developers to re-think plans for how much they want to build, how many phases, what facets of the job to begin, etc. “It's an interesting time; we’ve really had to make adjustments.”