Clean Living

Beauty and comfort meet at Ritz Lake in Fremont

Just 20 minutes from West Omaha off US Highway 275 in Fremont sits a lake that for the past 20 years has been privately owned by Doug and Mary Ann Ritthaler and enjoyed by their three children and grandchildren. Now they’re sharing their hidden oasis by offering luxury lake living on large walk-out style lots that overlook one of the cleanest and most beautiful lakes in the area—Ritz Lake.

The Ritthaler’s have had farming and irrigation operations in Fremont for decades and once farmed the land which became Ritz Lake. While drilling an irrigation well on the farm, Doug discovered a 100-ft. deep aquafer. He asked Nebraska based Lyman-Richey Sand and Gravel Company to test the gravel, which turned out to be desirable for mining. The company began removing topsoil and mining in 1995 and finished a few years ago, resulting in a 50-ft. deep, 80-acre spring-fed, sand bottom lake surrounded by a 20-ft. berm, allowing for all walk-out style homes.

Because the location has never experienced flooding—it’s outside the FEMA flood zone—the water is crystal clear with plenty of flow and circulation, giving the lake its beautiful blue color. The first phase of the 160-acre development allows for 50 large lakefront lots with sand beaches and 28 villas. The second phase will add another 25 lakefront lots and a marina. The Ritthaler’s had the lake shorelines dynamited to stabilize them, which established a solid foundation for the lots so the homes and beaches don’t experience shifting over time.

They also planted more than 500 trees, fully landscaped the entrances, and stocked the lake with catfish, bass, bluegill, and trout. The development also includes paved streets and city amenities such as water, sewer, snow removal, city gas and electricity. “This has always been a dream of ours,” Doug said. “It’s a well-conceived development, and we’ve had a lot of time to plan it. Every lake development has something to offer, and ours has the unmatched beauty combined with its location, appealing to a mix of people young and old.” Ritz Lake offers a private feel while still being in Fremont with all the city conveniences.

Those amenities, combined with its beauty, are what make the development attractive to homeowners. “The lake is beautiful, it’s quiet, with easy access to Omaha,” said Joan Hawthorn, who with her husband Jeff is moving into their new home on Ritz Lake this month. Matt Pruss and his family have just begun building their home, which was designed by Doug’s son-in-law, Cris Zandt with Studio 22 Architectural Design & Illustration. “I work in Fremont and my wife works in Omaha, so it was a good fit,” Matt said. “We’ve been looking for a while and were so excited to find something this nice with clean water. You can’t find this clear of a lake anywhere.”

The development is open to any builder, and they’ve already attracted some from Omaha, Elkhorn, Fremont, and Lincoln. The Ritthaler’s children—Brent, Bryan and Robyn—are all very involved in the project.  Doug’s daughter, Robyn Zandt, helps with sales and marketing for the property, and said the fact Ritz Lake is only 22 minutes from Village Pointe is a big draw. “It’s truly a gem,” she explained. “We grew up with it as our family lake, and now it’s our family business. It’s a big project, but we work together really well, so it’s been a fun project.”

Doug agreed. “It’s been a real adventure,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but we’re a strong family unit.” They’re looking forward to working with other families to help them build their dream homes and enjoy high-end lake living complete with fishing, boating, and watersports. “We just started promoting it in the spring,” Doug added. “Now we want to spread the word that it’s here.”  

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