Scenic, South Dakota, USA, a 9-people small town, is up for sale. The 46-acre small town, including a dance hall, a saloon, a jail, a train depot, two stores, a post office and some more empty buildings, was once a “rough and tumble cowboy town” that now, like much of the country, has hit harder economic times. And today, it can be yours for $799,000. The town has its own zip code.
According to ABC News, the town is for sale because the current owner, Twila Merrill, has been diagnosed with cancer. Merrill’s daughter, Lee Ann Keester, remarked, “I have to take care of my mom. Family always comes first… But it’s just time, everything comes with time… [My mom] would love to do it until she’s 100, but her health won’t permit her.”
True, the town won’t be mistaken for New York or even Green Acres. However, based on the pictures, it does have a certain Old West charm. One can almost picture John Wayne ambling down the street. It does look like a ghost town–and with fewer than 10 residents, it’s mighty close to becoming one.
This isn’t the first time an entire town has gone up for sale, the first of them was Bridgeville, California, a 300-people former wagon-trail stop and timber town which was put up on eBay in 2004, sold for $700,000. The town is currently up for sale again.
Most of them are micro-town with few population. Some however, are pretty developed town with good infrastructure.
Millionaire developer Scott Cooney bought the entire town consisting of all 42 homes and the lumber mills in Bonner for an undisclosed sum last fall from the Stimson Lumber Co., which is ceasing operations in the mill town. The town population is estimated to be over 400.
Some may also remember actress Kim Basinger’s ill-fated purchase of Braselton, Georgia for $20 million. The town has a population of 2,294 - including its own winery, stores, milk center, commercial and industrial parks. Basinger later however, was forced to sell the town for huge losses after she suffered from financial problems.
The former owner of Bridgeville at the time, Bruce Krall, told a reporter that buyers from as far away as Germany and China had expressed interest. “The world has a fascination with being able to buy a town,” he said in a story by The Associated Press.
“You can come in and name it after yourself, you can be the town’s mayor, you can setup a police force for the town and appoint yourself the chief of police, you can be the secretary of interior for the town, you can be the chief warden for the town’s prison, all at the same time. You have total control to everything in the town.”
There are however, some ultimate responsibilities to be assumed. The town owners must maintain their town’s water and sewage systems, and it means paying out of own pocket not from government.
The Braselton town is one of the most developed town ever been sold, giving you control of the town police station and police force
“Everyone thinks it’s easier than it is,” says Skyler Blue, a Bridgeville resident. “Unless you can afford to build a power or water storage station and other infrastructure for the town, you have to be a person who doesn’t mind that you might not have water for a couple days while it’s getting pumped up, or that the electricity might blow up. The greatest problem is always the funding and money issues.”
Real-estate broker Juli Doty said she heard the same question all over: “Can I be mayor? Can I own a real town?”
Braselton’s shopping center
“I was asked this very seriously,” she says. “Everybody wanted to be mayor of their very own town. They wanted to make their own rules. I think people want some control over their own lives.”
“The answer is yes, provided everything you setup is in accordance with US laws and constitution. For instance, you cannot buy a town and attempt to create your own country, or buying a town with intention of turning it into a drug smuggling center.”
Being a town owner you must maintain your own public works - on your own expenses
Doty finally completed the sale of Monse town, Washington, to East Coast developers who called after seeing a story on Fox News. The developers did not give publicly disclosure of their plans for the town though.