NORTH PORT — After three years at Babcock Ranch, Rick Severance has taken on a new role.

Severance was recently named president of the West Villages.

Severance takes over for Paul Erhardt, who had been president since 2017.

In his new role, Severance will oversee development and the phased sale of the West Villages, according to a news release by Mattamy Homes.

"I think what I'll bring is great builders," Severance told the Sun on Thursday.

Prior to his appointment, Severance helped launch Babcock Ranch, the first solar-powered town in the U.S.

While the roles are similar, West Villages is further along in planning and development which appealed to Severance.

"It's very established," Severance said.

As more homes are built, the district is also in the process of completing the new marketplace which will be anchored by Publix. The West Villages is also home to the Atlanta Braves spring training stadium that opened in March.

The next major project will be the town center, which Severance is hoping to unify the West Villages.

"It's exciting in creating a sense of place, (and) capitalizing on something that successful," Severance said.

He hopes to bring a few aspects of Babcock Ranch to West Villages — mainly environmental and green living initiatives.  

"I think good stewardship and bringing that for healthy living is one of the metrics," Severance said.

He hopes to have a solar power project in West Villages, but not to the level of Babcock Ranch — the community has a solar partnership with Florida Power and Light. 

Severance hopes to also have more walking and biking trails to make it more accessible for residents.

Right now, the main focus is the town center project. The town center will act as the centralized point for the West Villages and include an information and sales center.

"We almost need a central heartbeat," Severance said. "I'm excited about implementing a vision that's been discussed for years."

He added that it's what's missing in West Villages.

"We're successful as individual neighborhoods," Severance said.

Prior to his appointment at Babcock Ranch, Severance was the vice president of planning, development and operation for St. Joe Company, according to the release. At St. Joe, Company Severance led the company's residential and commercial portfolio, which included sales and design.

Severance was also CEO of New Vector Limited, which is a consulting company for numerous urban and master planned resort communities, and commercial town centers.


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