Richmond lead builder at Sterling Ranch



  • Richmond American Homes of Colorado will be the lead builder at Sterling Ranch.
  • Sterling Ranch will have 5,000 single-family homes.
  • The Douglas County development will feature water-conservation measures.
Sterling Ranch

Sterling Ranch

Denver-based Richmond American Homes of Colorado has been selected as the lead builder of single family homes in Sterling Ranch, a 3,400-acre development planned in Douglas County that would lead the nation as far as conserving water.

Some 5,000 single-family homes are planned on the $4.3 billion community south of Chatfield State Park and East of Roxborough State Park.

When completed, Sterling Ranch an estimated 31,000 people would live in the development that would include 1,200 acres for residential neighborhoods, the same amount dedicated to parks and open space, and 500 acres of commercial and retail properties.

Richmond, a subsidiary of Denver-based M.D.C. Holdings Inc., will construct extremely energy-efficient homes that use far less water than a typical home at Sterling Ranch.

“We are excited to have Richmond American as our lead builder,” said Harold Smethills, one of the owners of the ranch.

Harold Smethills.

Harold Smethills

“Our senior leaders, including Diane Smethills, Jack Hoagland, Jim Yates and I, have known Richmond American’s management team for many years and we look forward to a strong relationship for years to come as they help us realize the vision we have for Sterling Ranch,” he continued.

“We believe that this project will have an immensely positive impact on the Denver area, not only providing an incredible place for thousands of Coloradans to live, but also generating a sizeable economic impact for the area.”

David Mandarich, Chief Operating Officer of M.D.C. Holdings noted that Richmond American has built more than 40,000 homes in Colorado during the past four decades, which “is more than any other builder.”

At Sterling Ranch, homes will be “environmentally-friendly EnergyWise and WaterSense features,” Mandarich added.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to leverage our experience to help make Sterling Ranch a leading master-planned community in the Denver metropolitan area for years to come,” Mandarich said.

“Furthermore, we are grateful to work with Mr. Smethills and his talented team, who have already accomplished so much in making Sterling Ranch a reality.”

Earlier in the month, Douglas County commissioners for the second time approved the Sterling Ranch development.

While it received initial approval several years ago form the Douglas County Planning Commission and the county commissioners, about a year ago a judge blocked the project, saying that state law required it for the entire build-out.

Some observers thought that was ironic, considering that Sterling Ranch is anticipated to use a third of the water of a typical development by using the latest and best water conservation measures.

Also, other master-planned communities, such as Highlands Ranch, had not been held to such standards in the past.

Some nearby residents, however, applauded the decision because they think the development will bring too many people to the area.

However, Dominion Water acquired 4,200 acre feet of water of water to support the development of Sterling Ranch.  The Dominion deal will provide enough water for the entire development, according to Smethills.

The 4,200 acre-feet is in addition to the deal reached by Sterling Ranch and Aurora Water to deliver 88 million gallons. Another arrangement has been made with Aurora Water on a 15-year lease for 186 million gallons as part of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency  agreement, as infrastructure is completed to bring renewable water to Northwest Douglas County. Dominion also has options on other renewable water that it can bring to bear in the county

“Although we have made it clear we disagree with the interpretation of law that requires us to acquire all the water for the project 25 years before it is needed, we are committed to creating this leading-edge community,” Smethills said earlier.

“Sterling Ranch is the first PUD (planned unit development) in state history with a water demand management plan integrated into the land plan from the beginning and will require just 1/3 of the water that Douglas County requires,” he said. “We are committed to sustainable development as well as keeping water rates competitive for our homeowners.”

In any case, the state changed a law earlier this year to allow water to be phased in over time.

Interested in other homes by Richmond American Homes of Colorado? Please visit

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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