What’s It Like To Buy A Colorado Town?

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This story first aired on 07/19/16.

Editors note: The town of Cabin Creek sold in January 2017.

Something unusual is for sale on Craigslist. The price tag is $350,000 and it is not a fancy car or a house. It's a ghost town.

Cabin Creek is off U.S. 36, east of Denver and near Byers. James Johnson owns the property. He says it caught his eye while driving on the highway. The Craigslist ad includes the old gas station, a motel, a cafe, RV park and private shooting range. Johnson told KDVR he wants to sell so he and his wife can retire.

So that raises the question: What's it like to buy a town?

The Seegers family knows. In 2015, Chris Seegers and his wife, Tara, purchased Hillside in southern Colorado near Westcliffe. Photo: Town of Hillside_cottage

Chris Seegers spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

On why he thought the purchase was the right idea:

"When I looked at Hillside I really just saw the potential. I said, 'Man, we've got to first of all maintain community.' Because this is what I call my community. But all these other buildings, they're beautiful buildings. They need some TLC, but there's a lot of handmade architecture within the buildings. So if we can pull that out and revive these buildings, I think this is a beautiful location that we can use as vacation rental cottages."

On how they approached the future vision of the town:

"In the 90's there was a gentlemen who bought Hillside, and just did kind of a lot of bad things. Tore some historical buildings down, and just kind of infuriated the local residents... a few couples had gotten together and said we want to maintain the integrity of Hillside. But [the owners] had just realized, hey they're getting older and hey, we want to bring someone in with some energy and with some vision. And we came in and said this is our plan, we want to maintain the integrity of it. But we want to provide a business model that makes money, so we can bring events and concerts and that sort of thing back to the community."

On how the town runs as a business:

"Whenever my friends find out, 'Hey you own a town,' I kind of try to minimize it because you seem a bit egocentric if you say 'I own a town.' But I mean, it's really a business, when it comes down to it. The community is there and will always be there, but the actual physical day-to-day is operating a post office and vacation rental cottages. So insuring it is just the same as insuring a business."