Lake Ridge

Former Dallas Cowboy Linebacker Dexter Coakley loves living in Lake Ridge, a hilly 3,600-acre development along Joe Pool Lake on the west side of Cedar Hill, 3.5 miles west of Highway 67.

First developed in 1994 by Bluegreen Communities, the one-time ranch land became a lakeside mecca for Dallas’ elite looking for spectacular views and rolling hills. In 2012, SouthStar Communities bought Lake Ridge from Bluegreen Communities. Now, SouthStar has commenced on the final gated neighborhood of Lake Ridge, The Sanctuary.

Located on the shores of Joe Pool Lake, The Sanctuary boasts a gated lakeside paradise with half- to 1-acre homesites ready for a custom dream home. And SouthStar is starting the new year off with a bang, offering homesites in this gated lake neighborhood for as low as $49,900. Even the coveted lakeside sites, allowing walking access directly to the water, are on sale for a limited time starting at just $99,000. It’s an amazing time to buy land now and plan your lakeside dream home.

Lake Ridge is the only place in North Texas where you are truly mid-city — you can have views of downtown Dallas and Fort Worth at the same time, not to mention take a gander at Cowboys Stadium. Unlike many developed communities with cutely spun names, Lake Ridge is actually on a lake, even on a ridge. The 800-foot elevation on the hilltop provides striking views of nearby Joe Pool Lake, downtown Fort Worth, and Tangle Ridge Golf Club. Within the community are the 154 rolling acres of Valley Ridge Park, with sports fields, playgrounds, and walking and biking trails. And all this natural beauty is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Dallas.

Which is what drew Dexter Coakley and his family.

“My wife is from Austin,” says the former pro player. “Lake Ridge reminds me of those Hill Country hills and landscapes you don’t get in flatter parts of Texas. Plus there are bigger lots, where you can enjoy all your toys.”

It’s true: The lots are huge in Lake Ridge, most averaging over one acre per homestead. And the homes are large, too, with a minimum square footage requirement of 2,200. Most are far bigger: one empty-nester couple built an 18,000-square-foot home. Sam Putney’s Lake Ridge home, before he sold it, weighed in at 9,202 square feet. And that home was loaded!

Less than 100 homesites are left to sell out of those 2,600 original homesites. The Summit, which is at 800 feet elevation, has only 13 lots left. Coakley notes the large volume of homes sold already, and that buyers can use the custom builder of their choice, which keeps the development from looking too cookie-cutter. Still, there are only 23 homes on the market out of the 1,300 currently built in Lake Ridge.

We are seeing construction, he says; people are buying and building. Not just average homes, but 7,000-square-foot-plus houses. New retail and restaurant is also coming to nearby shopping centers, all positive signs that there is a lot of life after foreclosure.

The Coakleys could have lived, well, anywhere.

They were living in Coppell when Dexter was drafted by Dallas. He and his wife looked at Starwood in Frisco, but wanted more bang for their buck and more property. They had never been in Cedar Hill. Their Realtor took them out to Lake Ridge, and Coakley was “wowed.” He wanted a few acres and to take his sweet time building, which they did. Buying the property in 1999, they didn’t build until 2004, completing their five-bedroom, eight-bath, 7,000-square-foot-plus home with basketball court and pool in 2005, while he played for the Rams. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 they got to finally move in.

“I was itching to get back to the house and that land when I was in St. Louis,” he says. “I guess we caught the market just right.”

Coakley says his family is 20 minutes from both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth, 20 minutes from Cowboy Stadium and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. They like the central location while being away from what he calls the “hustle and bustle,” yet still keeping an eye on it. This July 4, his family watched fireworks from five communities in their backyard.

“I lived that crazy lifestyle, crowded restaurants, waits and traffic when I was in the NFL,” says Coakley. “Now I want to come home and enjoy life.”

Come out here, says Coakley, you might fall in love with the hills and never want to go back.

At least, that’s what happened with Duane Dankesreiter, the vice president of information and research at the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife remodeled a beautiful home in Lakewood, but as their family expanded, so did their need for square footage. Though the Dankesreiters loved Lakewood and “in the loop” living, and though Duane worked in downtown Dallas, they sold their home in Lakewood and found what was, to them, practically a mansion: a 4,000-square-foot home on an acre of land in Lake Ridge near Joe Pool Lake.

“We have room for gardens,” Dankesreiter told me.

Heck, they have room for ponies!

More about Lake Ridge

Established: In 1994, Bluegreen Communities developers acquired the one-time ranch land.

Along Joe Pool Lake on the Grand Prairie/Cedar Hill border, 3.5 miles west of Highway 67 off Belt Line and Mansfield Road at the corner of Lake Ridge Parkway

 1,300 homes completed or under construction

Average Home Price: 
$500,000 to $800,000

Lot Value: 
$50,000 to $500,000

Average Home Size: 
3,500 square feet to 4,000 square feet

Average Lot Size: 
1 to 2 acres

Local Haunts: 
Nearby Cedar Hill is home to many a big-box retailer and the beautiful outdoor shopping center of Uptown Village. The new Paragon Outlet Center in Grand Prairie is 10 minutes away. Sam’s Pizza & Pasta is an unassuming local pizza joint that serves unmatchable flavor straight out of the oven. For Mexican, head to Campuzano’s or the Veracruz Cafe.

Who’s Buying: 
Young families and retirees, who are tired of heavy traffic and being right on top of their neighbors, are moving in.

Cedar Hill and Midlothian school districts, or home schooling. There are also several notable private schools nearby where many residents send their children, such as Trinity Christian School, The Oak Ridge School, and Ashley’s Private School.