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CARROLLTON’S HOT PROPERTY

By Angela Enright |

Just inside the door of Joel Robuck’s office hangs a black-and-white aerial photograph taken in the early Thirties of the old Josey Rancho in Carrollton and the neighboring farms.

Back then, Keller Springs Road and Josey Lane were dirt roads that crossed the ranch property and wound like bright ribbons across gullies and between pastures. The white frame houses and barns stood as stark against the dark, lumpy earth as white Bibles on an empty church pew. The photograph recalls another era, one of long, simple days filled with tough, honest work.

If you drive by, you can still see some of the structures and rolling acres that are in the old photograph. But next month, Robuck and his partners will break ground there to begin a $200 million, 431-acre mixed-use development that he predicts will become the new center of Carrollton within 10 years.

Amid stiff competition, Robuck and several of his partners, whom he declined to name, purchased the ranch last July after 12 years of negotiation with longtime owner Col. Don Josey. For Josey, it’s the end of a lifetime of work. For Robuck, it’s the realization of a lifelong dream.

Robuck worked closely with Carrollton planners and local homeowner groups from the outset to get the necessary zoning changes to form an almost exclusively residential area. After the zoning changes, Robuck ended up with an 11-acre lake, 133 acres for single-family custom homes that will range in price from $100,000 to $250,000, 24 acres for patio homes, 17 acres for town-homes, 52 acres for apartments, 34 acres of office space totaling nearly 1 million square feet and 58 acres of retail space. But the acreage Robuck is most proud of is the 102-acre park that will be added to the Car-rollton greenbelt.

Robuck says he’s aware of the problems that many Dallas developers have faced in the past few years when they’ve come up against angry homeowner groups that believe large developments will infringe upon their lifestyle. Robuck, who was a member of the interim DART Board, doesn’t deny that transportation, water use and sewage disposal will become problems for Carrollton. He says those are issues that face the entire Metroplex.

“I think the best advice I could give [to developers] is to talk with homeowner groups as soon as you can. It is just too important to try to go in there and force something down the throats of the city. You just create enemies, and I’m not interested in doing that. I want to be able to do business in Carroll-ton for a long time, so I want to be friends and neighbors and good partners.”

Robuck compares what’s happening in Carrollton now to the growth that occurred in Richardson a decade ago. “Richardson had some major employers come into town sooner than Carrollton did. Those major employers had a significant impact on population and employment growth. That’s just starting to happen in Carrollton.”

Although the huge development will take the place of the beautiful old cattle ranch, Robuck says he plans to preserve the 10,000-square-foot ranch house and turn it into a restaurant. “I feel strongly about trying to maintain as much of the character and history of the Josey Rancho as I possibly can,” he says. In addition, Robuck is donating the materials from the huge, rambling barn (see photo) to the Carrollton Sesquicentennial Committee so that the group can rebuild the barn on the Perry Homestead site in Carrollton.

Robuck doesn’t think the once-small agricultural community will lose its identity to rampant development. “It’s reasonable growth,” he says. “Reasonable growth is healthy for everyone, because it provides jobs and money and business opportunities.”

Don’t miss your opportunity to catch a glimpse of Texas tradition at the old Josey Rancho before it’s too late.