Thursday, March 10, 2011

History: the original Valhalla property search


The Valhalla property itself will obviously serve as the heart of the entire project. It must be large enough to accommodate hunting, fishing, farming, and facilities for comfortably housing an average of 50 people at a time. We further describe exactly what we are looking for in a "Valhalla Desired Property Description" that has already been sent to a couple of real estate brokers in Northwest Arkansas, and will continue to be circulated to the real estate community there in the coming months.

Note that the property should not be acquired until Valhalla is first incorporated as a non-profit, public benefit 501(c)(3) and then formally recognized as such by the IRS. This process typically takes six months or so, thus providing us with adequite time to thoroughly investigate and research a wide variety of candidate properties. On the other hand, although more complicated, the property might be acquired and then transferred later into Valhalla's name.

Once narrowed down to two or three candidates for possible purchase, Valhalla board members will be requested to join us in assessing each possibility before a final selection is made.

At that point we should have our financing assessments together, and the required deposits would be made into the Valhalla bank account to cover the downpayment for the property under a 30 year mortgage (which would be very manageable while freeing up funds for site preparation and construction projects).

Valhalla would thereby own the property, not the donors. That said, two acres somewhere on what would otherwise be Valhalla property would be purchased under our own names, thus reserving our right to live there regardless of any future changes on the Board. Upon our deaths, our two acres would then be gifted to Valhalla.

Examples of "almost-suitable" properties we've found on the web, FYI only:

As described by the realtor: "Amazing 160 acre property in the Ozark Mountains with over 1/2 mile of beautiful Jimmy Creek flowing through it. This property has distant views of the surrounding countryside with two long ridges for two seperate building sites, each with it's own private drive to the creek. This property is covered in deer & turkey too!"

Pros: it's a hunting property with a creek suitable for running a hydroelectric system, evidence of basic driveway and cleared building sites, apparently secluded, plenty more photos that are very impressive available here. Price is right! Love those rock formations! 

Cons: not big enough, we need at least 200 acres. Also, we'd rather choose where to put the driveway, interior access roads, and building sites ourselves.

Example #2:

As described by the realtor:"120 acre, secluded homestead. Wooded with some pasture. Has a unique house (3BR/2BA) with round living room and made with many native materials such as decorative rockwork and flooring. Two storage sheds, pole barn, large basement (1170 sq ft), full length screened porch. Guest rooms have exits out onto the deck. Fireplace. Wonderful, private location, gated. Get back to nature here!"

Pros: sheds and a pole barn, huge basement, enough room to accommodate 20 Valhallans right away!!! The house with the circular living room could become a public visitor's center / museum some day. For temporary accommodations that house looks awesome, love the bathrooms and the enclosed patio! (Additional photos are available here).

Cons: the property itself is way too small, we need at least 200 acres. We won't need a visitors center / museum for a long, long time anyway (even though having shelter in the early days would be a huge plus). Not enough information about the land, looks flat and uninteresting to me, and there's no mention of water sources suitable for hydroelectric.

Example #3:

As described by the realtor: "2 Caves and numerous springs with an A Frame Cabin. Waterfalls and wildlife in the Ozarks start your adventure." The property is 245 acres. With such a brief description it is necessary to click on the "view all" link to look at the many photographs of the property here.

Pros: plenty of opportunities for hydroelectric power generation! Appears to have a lot of useable timber and the caves could potentially be useful for cold storage and cheese making. The A-frame cabin could serve as a temporary headquarters for a couple of years or more. The property size is also right within our target ballpark!

Cons: we need a lot more information before assessing the cons.

CONCLUSIONS: we need to supplement our already promising internet property searches with what may turn out to be weeks or months of on-the-ground surveys there in Arkansas.

So what will happen after the property is finally acquired? An extremely thorough survey of every rock, hill, creek, tree, and other terrain feature, with the intent of constructing a large topographical model of the entire property for planning purposes. This process could take months, yet it will be essential for proper placement of plumbing and electrical systems, buildings, barns, septic tanks and leach fields, cisterns, cabins, parking areas, gardens, memorial walls and groves, maintenance access paths, and hunting zones.

The results of these intensive survey activities will become the basis of projects that may take many decades to complete.

We will all need a lot of help to accomplish this critical task, and thus must find a way to reach out to the first Valhalla soldier volunteers (particularly those who have their own GPS units). It will also be necessary to establish a temporary camping area with basic facilities (rented porta-potties and drinking water tanks).

Once surveyed to the satisfaction of the Valhalla Board with additional input from the Building Advisory Committee, timber, rock quarry and natural gas experts will be asked to assess the property.

Strategic timber thinning could potentially contribute funding for the first Valhalla building projects while at the same time serve to remove dead, dying, or diseased trees. Assuming that many Valhalla projects will require gravel, rock, and granite, it would only make sense to use our own rather than pay someone else for the same materials. Finally, central Arkansas is the home off Fayetteville Shale, which is currently the subject of significant natural gas extraction operations that have their own pros and cons involved. We would therefore want to know if any oil, gas, or mineral resources were present at Valhalla, and how to protect the property for only uses deemed appropriate and desirable by the Valhalla Board.

Next steps: establishing Valhalla's basic inferstructures, then constructing the first pole barn and mini straw bale cabins (small yet useful structures to practice various building techniques).

More on these activities will be added to this webpage "soon."

1 comment:

  1. Great Post! It's very nice to read this info from someone that actually knows what they are talking about. sell real estate notes