Keller Citizen

New Roanoke neighborhood under way on Byron Nelson’s ranch land

In an area thick with housing developments, Fairway Ranch — cut through the rolling hills of southern Denton County — is unique in many ways.

The development features 500 custom-built homes and reminders of ranch-style living, including winding roads, ample green space and trails and bronze longhorn statues.

Homes are averaged in the low $300 to high $800 range.

But what really makes this master-planned community unique is the land’s owner. Set on more than 350 acres south of Texas 114, and with Interstate 35W and Texas Motor Speedway just a few miles to the west, the property was previously part of the ranch owned by legendary golfer Byron Nelson.

“That history really sets this development apart from others,” Wilbow Corp. president Chas Fitzgerald said.

Nelson’s family sold a portion of the property to the Wilbow Corp. in 2011 and the Roanoke City Council rezoned the land from agricultural to residential in 2012, clearing the way for the development.

Now in its first phase, ranch-style homes ranging in price from $350,000 to almost $500,000 are under construction. More than 100 homes are planned in phase one as well as a clubhouse and swimming pool, said Kristi Lisenbee, a sales counselor for Highland Homes.

Cox Elementary School, in the Northwest district, opened in August. More than 500 homes, retail shops, parks and other amenities are eventually planned for Fairway Ranch — but not a golf course.

The community hopes to eventually use Byron Nelson in its official name, but there are legal matters that still must be worked out, developers said.

Nelson’s widow, Peggy, still loves on a homestead on the ranch.

Nelson, a professional golfer who is best known for winning 11 consecutive pro tournaments in 1918, died at age 94 in 2006. He lived at his Roanoke ranch for 60 years and was embraced by residents and city leaders in the area. A portion of Texas 114 through Roanoke is named Byron Nelson Boulevard and Byron Nelson High School is in nearby Trophy Club.

The sale of land for the development will help fund the Byron Nelson Foundation, which provides funding to a variety of non-profits.

Modern, contemporary ranch style

Construction of homes in the subdivision began spring 2012 and there are currently four built-to-suit homes that have been purchased.

Fitzgerald said the purchase of built-to-suit homes from the very start is unusual.

“Usually inventory homes are the first to sell,” he said. “It seems to indicate the enthusiasm and pent up demand for customized homes.”

Highland Homes and Darling Homes are currently the two builders on the development, but Fitzgerald said he eventually expects to have multiple builders.

Lisenbee called the style of the homes “modern, contemporary ranch” and noted the cedar accents as a main connector to the land’s roots.

Homes feature open-space floor plans with tall ceilings and rooms that flow. Emphasis is put on shared spaces like living rooms and kitchens to fit with the changing style of modern homes.

“Kids now don’t really hang out in their rooms as much,” said Highland sales manager Jason Walker. “You see a lot more families spending time together in media rooms and living rooms and bedrooms are smaller to make for bigger shared spaces.”

Tall ceilings are met with tall windows to let in more natural light and the oversized patios emphasize the trend of outdoor living. Bathrooms and bedrooms are simple and up-front to show off functionality, Walker said.

“You’re not going to get a standard, cookie cutter home here,” he said.

Outside, residents can visit an amenities center to hang out at the pool and relax.

Plans are also under way for walking trails throughout the development. Lisenbee said the trails should be developed more once homes are finished and more residents move in.

“It’s an attractive neighborhood with low tax rates and good schools,” Linsebee said. “It’s a move-up neighborhood and I think homeowners will see that too.”

Lisenbee says she expects more buyers to be attracted to Fairway Ranch because of Roanoke’s small population of 8,300 and the quality of businesses in the surrounding area.

Fitzgerald said there are plans to build a Montessori school on the property, as well as a series doctor and dentist offices.

Roanoke Mayor Scott Gierisch said Fairway Ranch will be the town’s last major residential development.

“This development will still maintain that hometown feel that Roanoke has, but still fit in with the city’s commitment to providing more to its residents,” Gierisch said. “It goes with the great quality of life folks have living here and will attract folks moving from other areas.”