Gimme Land, Lots of Land

Tales from the housing bubble continue. City Paper, the alternative weekly here in Washington, has an interesting story about a man who sold his Capitol ...
by | September 12, 2005

Tales from the housing bubble continue. City Paper, the alternative weekly here in Washington, has an interesting story about a man who sold his Capitol Hill townhouse and was able to use the windfall to buy most of a town in Texas.

Martindale was once an important cotton-processing center, but changes in that industry dried up business in the town, leaving it all but abandoned. Carlton Carl, the DC landowner, was thus able to afford 36,000 square feet of downtown commercial property by cashing in his 900-square foot townhouse after 13 years of ownership.

The question now is what he will do with it. Martindale lies close to an interstate and only about 35 miles south of Austin. Carl seems focused on coming up with a gimmick to attract city dwellers.

He contemplates something in the nature of other Texas attractions, such as Gatorfests, goat-sled races and fire-ant festivals. The footwear that turns up along his new waterfront property -- the detritus left by tubers constantly floating down the San Marcos River -- might add up to something. "I'm thinking of starting the Imelda Marcos Shoe Tree Parade," he told City Paper.

Carl considers other hare-brained ideas, such as purchasing an over-sized inflatable lava lamp for tourists to gawk at. The one idea that never seems to occur to him is actually making something. Local cotton processors might have been priced out of the global market, but surely there's something tangible he could look into building.

Will we really be able to compete with China and India if our entrepreneurial spirit is wholly channeled into converting forsaken shoes into cause for celebration?

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