Only one road, marked by a small wooden sign, goes into the 12-acre Ridgeleigh community in Potomac, Md., and it’s not a through street. The handful of streets in the neighborhood all end in cul-de-sacs with grass islands and trees.
The gently rolling topography, surrounded by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission parkland, embraces an enclave of 102 single-family homes on spacious lots with parcels of open space interspersed among them. It’s a close-knit community beloved by residents.
“People buy there for the schools and location; they stay for the community,” said Paul E. Biciocchi, a real estate agent who lives a mile away.
Ridgeleigh was built in the mid-1970s by a local developer who also put up Worland, Potowmack Preserve, Country Place, Fox Den, Potomac Station and the Village. The original marketing brochure described a free-flowing, meadow-like landscape with low hills that formed caressing private boundaries. Today, there’s all that plus blossoming cherry trees lining the streets.
The surrounding woods form a wide buffer and are crisscrossed with trails and the water from the highlands in Montgomery County that flows into Buck Branch and then into Cabin John Creek.
“It’s as quiet and private as it can be,” said Bob Rudnick, a resident with his wife, Nancy, and sons Ryan and Devin, now 26 and 24, since 1995. Their house is backed by woods. “We don’t need window coverings in the back,” he said.
They see deer from the deck, a red fox den and beavers in the creek. Slater — the Rudnick family’s 155-pound Italian mastiff — “will go out back to roam and play around in the woods,” he said.
Cul-de-sacs and creek views: Shutters frame windows on the red-brick or aluminum-sided two-story Colonials with two-car garages. Some families have added screened porches, decks or a portico over the front entrance, “which gives a nice touch,” said Rudnick.
The builder offered five models ranging from 2,240 to 3,350 square feet. “Some of the larger models have fully excavated basements with walkouts to the back yard, adding to resale values,” said Biciocchi. People tend to renovate and expand rather than move to a bigger home elsewhere. Some people grew up there, left and moved back.
“We’re on our second house in the neighborhood,” said Teri Stanish, a resident with her husband, Jeff, and three children. “When we first came in 1991, we were looking for a good, solid neighborhood to start a family. Four years ago, our friends, who had the biggest model, moved out, and we decided to move in. It’s a great location at the end of a cul-de-sac, and it backs up to the creek.”
“Many people move to bigger house after the babies grow up, often close by within a mile or two, but we didn’t even have to change school bus stops,” she said.
Kids galore: “More and more kids are moving into the neighborhood, and the group at the bus stop is growing,” said Allen Mattison, a resident since 2007 who lives in the neighborhood with his wife, Cara, and two children.
“During the February snowstorm, my daughter called her friends and said, ‘Meet me at Sledding Hill.’ We knew adults would be there and weren’t worried. It’s always packed with kids,” he said.
The Stanish children — Ben, 16, Katie, 13, and Will, 10 — also love living there. “They can bike and scooter and walk the dog safely,” said Teri Stanish. “They don’t have to leave the neighborhood for an adventure. Each of them has lots of friends their age.”
Every year on the last Friday before school is out, all the neighborhood elementary school children, clad in shorts, gather and walk together to school. “They follow a path through the woods, across the creek and through another neighborhood to get to the school,” said Mattison. “It’s great. The kids love it.”
Shopping: Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall, Potomac Village Shopping Center and Montgomery Mall are nearby.
Living there: Ridgeleigh, Zip code 20854, lies along Gainsborough Road south of Democracy Boulevard in Potomac, with parkland on the other three sides. The only streets in the community are Gainsborough Road, Gainsborough Court, Buckspark Lane and Buckspark Court.
According to Paul E. Biciocchi, a broker with Forum Properties, there are no properties for sale or under contract. Three properties sold in the past year, at prices ranging from $870,000 for a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house to $915,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bath.
Homeowners pay an annual fee of $531, most of which goes to landscaping.
Schools: Seven Locks Elementary, Cabin John Middle and Winston Churchill High.
Transit: Ridgeleigh is about nine miles from the District. Driving via Interstates 495 and 270 or on River Road through Bethesda are the most direct routes. Metrobuses run on Democracy Boulevard and from Montgomery Mall to the Bethesda station on Metro’s Red Line. Ride On buses take commuters to Montgomery Mall. It takes Allen Mattison half an hour to drive downtown. “On the way home, my record is 23 minutes,” he said.
Crime: According to CrimeReports.com, there were no crimes reported in the past six months.