Many housing developments are measured in the hundreds. But one neighborhood community near Liberty Hill could swell into the thousands. Santa Rita Ranch, which opened in 2014, is one of the largest master-planned communities not just in Williamson County, but the Austin region, said developer Ed Horne. Horne said home sales are consistently strong north of State Highway 45 and west of I-35, particularly in an area whose epicenter he considers FM 1431 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

“Where are those housing sales going to go?” Horne asked. “I believe they’re going straight up Ronald Reagan (Boulevard),” Horne asked. “The next major bullseye for development in this city is going to be Ronald Reagan and Highway 29.”

So that’s where Santa Rita Ranch is growing, currently standing at about 600 homes. Horne said his team has sold about 220 houses per year with hopes of eventually producing 300 to 400 houses per year. He envisions about 6,500 homes when the ranch is completed.

“If you’ve got world-class schools (and) you got transportation corridors…why is that not the place where people are going to go?” Horne asked.

The ranch has more than seven miles of trails in an interconnected system. And Horne said they’re planning to build a technology park on about 100 acres within the ranch. “In other words, it’s kind of what everybody is looking for,” Horne said.

Seven homebuilders are turning dirt there, according to the website, including Brookfield Residential, Highland Homes and Pulte Homes. The ranch’s developers and builders aim to set $1,000 aside for each home sold for an education fund. About $450,000 has been raised so far with the ultimate goal of $6.5 million. “We believe that great schools equal a great location for people to live,” Horne said. Horne said he tries to create plenty of events with the ranch to help neighbors get to know each other, something he said is missing elsewhere. His “director of fun” coordinates all that.

“At Santa Rita Ranch, we get people to know each other,” he said. “I think that’s a key ingredient.”

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