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In Lake Ridge, Va., a planned community comes into its leafy glory

Where We Live | Lake Ridge in Prince William County, Va.

LAKE RIDGE, VA - NOVEMBER, 9: Members of the Colgan High School rowing team paddle in the Occoquan Reservoir from the Lake Ridge Park and Marina in the Lake Ridge neighborhood of Woodbridge, VA on November 9, 2019. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post)

When developer Ken Thompson conceived the Lake Ridge community in the 1960s, he envisioned a place where suburban homes would coexist with nature, where active individuals and families would enjoy spending time outdoors.

A half-century later, Thompson’s vision for Lake Ridge, a large planned community in eastern Prince William County, has come to fruition. Wooded areas teeming with wildlife twine through suburban neighborhoods, and residents enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including five Olympic-size swimming pools, two marinas, walking paths, parks, playgrounds and a par-three golf course.

The Occoquan Reservoir, where ramps provide access for rowing, fishing and kayaking, forms the northern boundary of Lake Ridge. Other borders are Harbor Drive and Minnieville Road to the east; Dale City to the south; and Springwoods Drive to the west.

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Lake Ridge has a balanced mix of single-family detached houses, townhouses, condos and apartments, according to Ike Mutlu, general manager of the homeowners association. Although many of the homes were built in the 1970s, construction in some neighborhoods continued through the late 1990s.

Housing affordability is one of Lake Ridge’s main draws, Mutlu said.

“For people who want to have families and live in a regular house with a regular yard with trees and sort of a Norman Rockwell world — this is the best you can do in [the Washington, D.C. area], and it’s hard to do that when you get any closer,” Mutlu said.

The Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association, the full name of the homeowners association, indicates the value the community places on outdoor activities. In addition to pools, tennis courts and parks, the association maintains sections of a scenic walking trail that winds along the banks of the reservoir, and Fantasy Playground, a labyrinthine wooden climbing structure with passageways, slides and swings.

“There are activities for every member of the family, so you don’t have to leave the community for anything, said Wavery Brown, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. “And that’s for early child care all the way up to seniors.”

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The homeowners association operates Creative Preschool, started by the Lake Ridge Moms Club more than 20 years ago. About 75 children are enrolled in the preschool, which emphasizes character-building and social skills, Mutlu said.

Christine Wilder, whose three children have attended the preschool, serves as president of the Moms Club. The club offers a weekly play group for mothers and their young children, and coordinates social, holiday and community involvement activities, such as a “Mom Prom,” Halloween and Christmas parties, turkey drives and coat collections for people in need, Wilder said.

Wilder and her husband moved from Alexandria to a townhouse in Lake Ridge in 2006. In 2014, they decided their growing family needed a larger house and bought another home in Lake Ridge.

“A lot of the new development, where they’re just clear-cutting all the trees, building the houses and then planting saplings, that wasn’t for me,” Wilder said. “I like the houses that have older trees, big trees.”

“Lake Ridge has a unique advantage in that it has a lot of undeveloped, forested common area,” said John Maher, a Lake Ridge resident since 1990. The woods provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including deer, opossums, raccoons, beavers, bats, foxes, coyotes, snakes, bald eagles, hawks and great horned owls, he said.

“Most of the houses back to trees or woods of some kind, and if they don’t back to trees or woods, they back to the Occoquan Reservoir,” said Nancy Poe, a real estate agent with Long & Foster who lived in Lake Ridge for 30 years.

“You see people walking through Lake Ridge all times of the day and night,” Poe said. “It’s just this fabulous, cohesive neighborhood that people meld into very quickly.”

Living there: Over the past year, according to Brown, the average sale price for Lake Ridge homes was $355,000, ranging from $105,200 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo to $2 million for a single-family house with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

There are 163 houses on the market, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo selling for $144,900 to a waterfront house with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms for just under $1.7 million.

Schools: Antietam, Jenkins, Lake Ridge, Occoquan, Old Bridge, Penn, Rockledge, Springwoods and Westridge elementary schools; Benton, Lake Ridge, Fred Lynn and Woodbridge middle schools; and Colgan, Gar-Field and Woodbridge high schools.

Transit: Interstate 95, about a mile to the east, is the main commuting corridor. Slug lines form in parking lots at the Tackett’s Mill shopping center and the intersection of Old Bridge Road and Route 123, which also serve as OmniRide Express commuter bus stops. The nearest VRE station, in Woodbridge, is about four miles away. Franconia-Springfield, the closest Metro station, is about 12 miles away.