If you drive east on S.R. 56 from Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in Wesley Chapel but have never continued past the Shops at Wiregrass mall, you have no idea what you’re missing. Just a couple of miles down the road is a gorgeous new community that soon will fill with hundreds of families enjoying the best possible Florida lifestyle in stunning new homes at The Ridge at Wiregrass Ranch.
The Ridge’s impressive front entrance features a waterfall and beautifully landscaped gateway to eight fully furnished and decorated model homes that fill a cul-de-sac, giving a great sense of what the community will look like as it grows.
The Ridge at Wiregrass Ranch is a new home community that is being developed, built and sold by Sunrise, FL-based GL Homes.
“What’s different about us, and what sets us apart from other communities, is that we are both the developer and builder,” says project manager Becky Strowbridge. “That means we handle every aspect of the community from start to finish.”
And, that distinction is clear from the moment you enter the community’s sales office, where a large staff works out of a nearly 4,000-sq.-ft. model home that has been converted to include The Ridge’s sales offices and design center.
The staff includes six sales associates, a receptionist, two design coordinators, an administrator, a closing coordinator and two managers, plus the director of construction, director of land development and four construction managers.
“We’re heavy on staff, which contributes to the quality of the experience we can provide to our buyers,” Becky says, adding that providing superior customer service is of the highest importance to each member of the team. “We do everything we can to make (the process) easy. The support system our buyers have throughout the process gives people peace of mind. If you have a question about what’s happening on your property, we’re right here.”
RWG_Sebastian LRThe eight models feature two homes from each of the community’s four home collections. The collections are based on lot size, which vary from 50-75 feet wide. In addition to the models, twelve inventory homes are planned and in various stages of construction, and all of them should be move-in ready by the spring of 2016. This gives buyers a quicker turnaround to move into a new home, and offers potential buyers additional opportunities to walk through floor plans.
Once complete, The Ridge at Wiregrass Ranch will include 562 homes, although at this time, only 219 Phase 1 lots are available for sale. The second phase of The Ridge will be planned once it becomes evident which lot sizes and features are most in demand in the community.
“That’s the beauty of being the developer and builder,” says operations manager Joseph May. “We can make changes as we go along to meet our customer’s needs. Our future homes will be based on what our customers are asking for.”
Prices of homes in The Ridge start from $275,000 to $575,000, with sizes from just under 2,000 sq. ft. to nearly 5,000 sq. ft. Most homes back up to ponds or conservation areas, and the few homes that back up to another home feature deeper lots and green space in between.
About GL Homes
GL Homes is a privately owned company that has been in business for 40 years. The builder/developer started in Palm Beach and Broward counties and has grown to include communities throughout Florida.
“We’re the second largest private builder in Florida,” Joseph says, “and despite only operating in one state, we have been ranked the 26th largest builder in the entire United States. So, our presence in the areas where we build is major.”
Currently, the only other GL Homes community in the Tampa Bay area is Valencia Lakes, which is for adults ages 55 and older and located in the Sun City Center area of southern Hillsborough County. Both Joseph and Becky worked for that community before moving to The Ridge.
Becky and her husband John Strowbridge were both hired by GL Homes after they each earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in building construction from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1997. John is the community’s director of land development.
The couple has lived in nearby Tampa Palms since they moved to the Tampa area to work at Valencia Lakes.
“I’ve enjoyed opening The Ridge because it feels like my neighborhood,” Becky says. “I work with Realtors I know, I’m familiar with the businesses here and it’s my community.”
Joseph has worked at GL Homes for the past four years, joining The Ridge just a few months ago. “This is the best company I’ve ever worked for,” he says. “I enjoy my work, and enjoy what I do all day. It feels like a family.”
Amenities & Schools
The community’s amenities make for resort-style living at its very best
When it is fully built, The Ridge will include a 12,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse, complete with a fitness room residents can access 24 hours a day, an indoor court for basketball, volleyball and other indoor sports, tennis courts and even a social director to plan events. The resort-style pool has a beach entry, a water slide, a splash pad for the kids and a separate lap pool.
The clubhouse will be completed about a year after the community’s first residents begin to close on their homes. With those first houses now under construction, move-ins are expected to begin in the spring of 2016. The clubhouse and related amenities should be available to residents by 2017.
For families, The Ridge has easy access to excellent local schools. The community’s rear entrance, which is not yet open (and will be gated for residents only), is across the street from Dr. John Long Middle School. (you can see GL Homes’ construction trailer at that location on Mansfield Blvd. now). Wiregrass Ranch High School also is nearby and a new, yet-to-be-named elementary school — expected to open for the 2016-17 school year — is now under construction next to Long.
This easy access to schools is one reason Darrell and Porsche Alderman are currently building a home in The Ridge. “The location is optimal,” Darrell says. “It’s close to A-rated schools, near the (Wiregrass) mall for shopping and has easy access to major highways.”
Darrell and Porsche currently live in Seven Oaks and have been searching for a home their family can grow into as their kids, now 8 and 6, become teenagers. They recently chose their home’s finishing touches and upgrades, so construction will begin right away.
“Going through this process was easy,” Darrell says. “It was straightforward and not as stressful as I thought it would be.”
He also says that many options he and his wife were given as “standard” were considered upgrades in other new home communities, such as their new home’s tile roof, pavers in the driveway and patio and the oversized-tile floors.
And, while parents will appreciate the close access to the schools, Becky says there’s something for everyone at The Ridge, including those needing space for extended families, empty nesters and retirees.
Steven Kessel currently lives in a condo in Delray Beach, FL. He became a full-time resident of Florida about seven years ago, when he retired as a Lieutenant fireman in a Boston suburb. Kessel says he’s been waiting for the right time and looking for the right opportunity to move into a home. He had looked at several GL Homes communities throughout the state and decided to purchase in Wesley Chapel.
Kessel says the timing (he’s recently sold both his home in the Boston area, and the Delray Beach condo he inherited from his father), the location and the price of the homes at The Ridge are what drew him to the community.
“It’s suburban and away from some of the hustle and bustle, but very close to many places I’m interested in, such as Tampa, Orlando and Ft. Myers.”
When he first visited, Kessel says he was impressed. “The entry is just spectacular,” he says. “It caught my attention, and I just thought, ‘Wow!’”
He also says he appreciates the way the community will be configured. “There’s a lot of conservation area, and quiet nooks and crannies.”
He adds, “I run into people all the time who say they live in a GL Homes community, and they have nothing but good things to say. I’ve been told several times that if I buy from GL Homes, I’ll be happy.”
The sales center at GL Homes’ The Ridge at Wiregrass Ranch is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information about The Ridge, visit GLHomes.com or call (855) 671-1700.
By Celeste McLaughlin