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Buying an Entire Town

One report intrigues the entire country.

Recently, the Associated Press reported that a Russian investor bought an entire town in Latvia, a country in the Baltic Region, for $3.1 million. It states, “The town formerly known as Skrunda-1 housed about 5,000 people during the Cold War but was abandoned over a decade ago after the Russian military withdrew from Latvia following the Soviet collapse… the buyer was Aleksejevskoje-Serviss, a Russia-based firm, though she could not provide details.

“It wasn’t immediately clear what plans the buyer had for the 110-acre (45 hectare) property, which is located in western Latvia about 95 miles (150 kilometers) from Riga. The town contains about 70 dilapidated buildings, including apartment blocks, a school, barracks and an officers’ club. Built in the 1980s, Skrunda-1 was a secret settlement not marked on Soviet maps because of the two enormous radar installations that listened to objects in space and monitored the skies for a U.S. nuclear missile attack.”

For only $3.1 million, an investor now owns a ghost town. The price wouldn’t even be worth half of a typical property in the Hamptons so to speak. This reminds me of the 1983 classic “Local Hero” where an oil executive was sent to the fictional village of Ferness to acquire the entire land for his company’s plans of building a refinery. But this is something completely normal for those who constantly follow real estate beats. Here are some more intriguing cases that we scoured online.

For Retribution
In 2002, American Electric Power had to settle their dispute against a village of 221 people who were affected by the plant’s sulfuric compounds. The firm had to pay Cheshire village $20 million aside from resettling them to a safer neighborhood.

For Investment
The 42-acre trailer park community of Briny Breezes received a $500 million offer from Ocean Land Investments Ltd., a Canadian company known for bulldozing existing communities and redeveloping them into high-end residential/commercial properties. The town’s appraised value? Only $42.3 million. That’s what prime location can do to hungry investors even if it means turning average homeowners into multimillionaires overnight.

For the Fun of It
Scott Alexander, Britain’s noveau riche socialite, once decided to purchase a Bulgarian town in 2006. But a Bulgarian website comments, “The reported sum he had paid for a seaside town in the Balkan country, – GBP 3 M is also laughable, as it would only be enough for about 100 decares of land, 7 kilometres into the shore. A true seaside location for that price would only be about 30 decares, which is quite insufficient for a village.” Scott planned on renaming the town with “Alexander” of course.

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