DAVID LLOYD JONES
Joe Robson figures he’s about 80 percent of the way through his project – maybe.
Robson is the guiding light behind Forest Ridge, which bills itself as the only truly planned community in the Tulsa area.
It also includes an upscale public golf course that Golf Digest has hailed as the fifth finest in Oklahoma, and on a list that begins with Southern Hills Country Club and includes courses all over the state, that is no mean standing.
I was working on The Tulsa Tribune when the Forest Ridge Golf Course was completed and I remember those early years vividly. Robson didn’t seed the golf course; he had it sodded, putting it into play much faster and at much greater expense. Then, in the first winter, a killing freeze devastated golf courses all over the area and the word went out that Robson’s golf baby had suffered significant damage.
“Actually,” he laughs, “that was never true, but it did encourage us to overseed the course with rye grass, so the course looks green even in the winter.”
Robson’s golf course was not simply to satisfy a golfing itch. With it and the surrounding amenities, which include a country club-worthy pro shop and Café Savannah, a gourmet restaurant, Robson had the foundation for his real business – building a major housing development.
It was a long-range plan and then some. Just getting to Forest Ridge seemed an adventure, requiring you to drive seemingly forever on East 71st St. until you saw the clubhouse. You could take the Broken Arrow Expressway and get off at Kenosha (Tulsa’s 71st St.), turning left and driving until the clubhouse came into view. Now, the Creek Nation Turnpike gets you closer and Forest Ridge no longer seems so exotic.
In the 17 ensuing years, Robson has sold about 825 houses. He has divided these into 13 different neighborhoods with prices ranging from $150,000 to over $700,000. They may have widely differing prices, but each homeowner in a Forest Ridge neighborhood gets certain amenities. For one thing, they get discounted access to the golf club. They also get discounts at Café Savannah.
There are four lakes that all residents of Forest Ridge can fish in, although the catches are not for the dinner table and must be released. Ten miles of paths wander throughout the project for jogging, cycling, or just strolling. Tennis courts are also available as is a full-length basketball court. No matter where a resident lives, or where the amenity is, all residents are invited to participate.
Each neighborhood has its own rules, and its own homeowner dues. Each has its own restrictions on what a builder may do or not do. For example, in the Deerfield/Somerset area homes cost as little as the $150,000-$160,000 area and are required to have a minimum of 1,700 square feet (Deerfield) or 2,000 square feet (Somerset). The Highlands has homes from the mid $160,000 range and a 1,600 square foot minimum.
On the high-end line there is a community called The Pointe, which has a 4,000 square foot minimum, and only six estates, while the Wellston boasts of being a gated neighborhood located in the middle of the 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes on the golf course.
In short, there is probably something within the reach of most pocket books at Forest Ridge. Now the question is, how far will it go?
“If we just complete the land we have now we’re probably 80 percent through the project,” says Robson, “but there is still a lot of land available in the area so I just don’t know.”
Forest Ridge has, of course, become a magnet for homebuilders, all of who must meet company standards. How many have worked on the project
“I couldn’t even begin to guess,” laughs Robson.
If you’re looking for a house Forest Ridge is certainly worth a look. Even if you’re not, you ought to try the golf course. If you do, let me give you a word of advice – Take two dozen extra golf balls. That rough is rough.
David Lloyd Jones is a realtor with Prudential-Detrick Realtors. He can be reached at 381-2345.