When Bob Rheudasil was busy planting and harvesting trees across the 3,700 acres of North Texas land owned by Edward Marcus, he had no idea that 50 years later his future son-in-law would be developing a Flower Mound subdivision on Rheudasil Farms property.
On July 4, 1953, the 23-year-old Rheudasil moved from his Paris, Texas, home to the Flower Mound area to be foreman of Edward Marcus’s herd of Angus cattle. It was from that beginning, and Marcus’s belief that one day people would prize the big trees in the area, that the two men began what would become a hugely successful tree farming business.
“We had no idea in mind about the future or what we hoped would happen,” said Rheudasil, who would become Flower Mound’s first mayor. “Mr. Marcus just loved looking at all those trees. In fact, one of the best afternoons I ever spent was when Lady Bird Johnson came up and I showed her around the property with Mr. Marcus … and the Secret Service.”
During the farm’s most active period, Rheudasil was sending two or three tree shipments daily. The tree-less Houston area, especially around Sugarland, was a major recipient of thousands of oak and pecan trees grown in Flower Mound.
“I bought thousands of little saplings for 50-cents a tree and planted them on each side of The Mound, all the way over to Midway in Irving,” said Rheudasil. “We were just blessed with our timing. We’d plant trees in the morning and it would rain in the afternoon.”
Eventually, the trees were featured in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog and orders from around the world reached Flower Mound.
“I remember I got an order to send an oak tree to Spain,” said Rheudasil. “I told those folks that that kind of oak probably wouldn’t do well over there, but they wanted it anyway.”
Fast forward 33 years after Edward Marcus’s death in 1977 and the change in southern Denton County is remarkable. What had been mostly agricultural-use land is now multiple-subdivision urban sprawl. In the past five years, Flower Mound has lost 11-percent of its former tree canopy.
In an effort to reverse past residential development trends, Flower Mound’s Rheudasil Farms hopes to make a big impact on North Texas real estate by making little impact on its acreage.
Flower Mound’s first eco-friendly residential subdivision, Rheudasil Farms, is a gated cul-de-sac development off Lexington Avenue, west of Gerault Road between FM 3040 and Spinks Road being developed by certified eco-builder Mark Glover, president of the development and Rheudasil’s son-in-law.
The preservation-minded subdivision design will preserve the more than 200 large trees, bluebonnets and other natural wildflowers on the property. It will include the public-access, private 2.7-acre Leadership Park on three of its 11 lots. The park is being planned to honor past community pioneers and leaders, such as Edward Marcus, “Doc” Wilkerson and Rheudasil, among others.
“The trend is for smaller, high-quality built homes instead of the huge, space- and energy-wasting ‘McMansions’ built in the ‘80s and 90’s,” said Glover.
The 5.4-acre development will concentrate eight home sites on lots ranging from ¼ to 1/3-acre sizes plus buffer areas, with prices ranging from $175,000 to $240,000. The homes will be priced from $500,000 to $1 million.
All homes in the subdivision will be either Gold or Platinum LEED (Leadership Energy Environmental Design) Certified, an international system of ratings that measures energy efficiency, water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, CO2 emissions reduction and stewardship of resources.
“The idea is to have people feel like they’re out in the country, even though they’re within walking distance to the Kroger-based shopping area on [FM] 3040, the Community Activity Center and elementary and middle schools,” said Glover. “Our houses only have a 25-foot set-back and all have front sitting porches to give that ‘neighborly’ feeling.”
Visible evidence of the development’s environmentally-friendly features is a permeable paving system designed to slow water runoff, while also filtering many pollutants, with natural grassy depressions, rather than curbs and gutters. A return to outdoor gas lighting ensures not only a special charm, but the light does not attract insects and allows a better view of the stars by closely-focusing its illumination.
For their part, residents will be encouraged to incorporate such energy-saving features as solar panels and rainwater capture.
It has been a year since the Flower Mound Town Council approved rezoning the Rheudasil Farms from agricultural to single-family residential at its May 4, 2009 meeting.
“There’s no doubt that the national economy has had an impact on us and real estate business everywhere,” said Glover. “But, once we get one or two lot buyers signed, then we can start actually developing the property. We should be able to get underway in the second half of 2010.”
Rheudasil is enthusiastic about the subdivision’s environmental features and its placement between two creeks and the natural features being preserved.
“I just loved planting bluebonnets all over the area, so I’m glad they’ll keep blooming here,” he said.