Roughly 14,000 homes could rise on what is now a hunting ranch about 30 miles outside Austin — plus restaurants, offices, schools and much more. GOOGLE MAPS SCREEN CAPTURE

Austin Business Journal writes, "when asked why his company was interested in building in Central Texas, DMB Development LLC CEO Brent Herrington rattled off a long list of reasons.

"Beyond the economic opportunity, we love that Central Texas is a place people feel drawn to for lifestyle reasons, a place people choose rather than settle for," Herrington said in an April 18 email. "I grew up in Texas and have a real appreciation for the unique, quirky culture of the greater Austin area. I love the natural beauty, the dynamic blend of people and cultures, the creative vibe, the live music scene, and, of course, the food."

That helps explain why his Arizona-based development firm aims to transform more than 7,000 acres near Jarrell, north of Austin in Bell and Williamson counties, into what he's calling a "new town" with 14,000 homes.

As Austin Business Journal first reported earlier this month, the community is set to rise at Solana Ranch, a 9,000-acre cattle and wildlife ranch along the I-35 corridor between Georgetown and Temple. Public documents show DMB is under contract to buy roughly 7,088 acres for a master-planned residential community. The Michaux family has owned Solana Ranch for more than half a century; the DMB CEO said agreements are being finalized and he anticipated closing within the next 60 days.

"Our team at DMB Development has had our eyes on the greater Austin area for years. By any standard, Central Texas is among the most dynamic growth markets in the country," Herrington said. "Williamson and Bell counties are poised for major economic development given the explosive employment growth on the north side of the Austin metro. We want to be part of an intelligent growth strategy for the area, not just the typical incremental sprawl of one-off subdivisions and strip malls."

In a series of emails, Herrington provided additional details about the project, a municipal utility district that could fund infrastructure development and the land, which has long been the source of development rumors.

Herrington said DMB leaders envision Solana Ranch including many elements of a traditional Texas town, with a wide range of housing types, sizes and price points, along with shopping, dining, offices, entertainment, recreational facilities, schools and churches. There will also be a robust network of paths and trails for walkers or bikers. The community will be built out in a series of villages.

It will take several years to prepare the sprawling site for development but Herrington said the aim is to open the community in late 2026. Full buildout would take several years beyond that — at which point, the community could reach a population of 40,000 to 50,000, the chief executive said. That would be a significant population center in its own right for Williamson County. For context, the population in Leander to the southwest of the ranch surpassed 67,000 in 2021, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

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