Anonymous buyer snaps up 2 ranches near Carbondale |

Anonymous buyer snaps up 2 ranches near Carbondale

Janet Urquhart

A Colorado buyer has stepped forward with bids to purchase more than 3,700 acres of ranch land in Missouri Heights north of Carbondale for a price that could exceed $16 million.

What he intends to do with the amassed acreage remains a matter of speculation. The two properties, abutting Bureau of Land Management lands, feature rolling meadows and pastures with views of Mount Sopris and scenic stands of aspen that provide cover for herds of elk.

The buyer, bidding by telephone, offered $8.25 million to acquire the 1,810-acre R.M. Laurence ranch during an auction Saturday. He has also submitted an offer to purchase the adjacent 1,925-acre Gould ranch, which was listed for sale for $8.5 million. Neither sale has been finalized.

The Laurence ranch, including a 480-acre piece near the intersection of Red Canyon and Catherine Store roads and a separate piece totaling 1,330 acres bordering Consolidated Reservoir, was initially auctioned off in 31 individual parcels ranging from 35 to 200 acres.

Then bidders saw their hopes for a piece of the scenic ranch snatched away by the single, anonymous buyer, who offered 5 percent more than the aggregate sale price of the individual parcels.

The auction format was set up to allow a single buyer to take all after the individual parcels had been auctioned off.

“One person bought the entire thing in the over-bid go-round,” said Joe Hicks, whose Grand Junction real estate and auction firm handled the sale. He declined to identify the winning bidder. “He wants to remain anonymous for the time being.”

The buyer provided a signed contract in advance of the auction; only the numbers needed to be filled in, according to Hicks.

The buyer has 60 days in which to finalize the purchase of the Laurence property and was to wire a $225,000 deposit Monday morning, Hicks said. The individual has discussed two or three “scenarios” for the property, he added.

If the sale does not go through, the property would likely be broken into pieces, and individual winning bidders would then be offered a chance to buy the parcels they wanted.

The same buyer has also placed the Gould ranch under contract for an undisclosed price, according to Frank Taverna, a broker with Mason and Morse Real Estate in Carbondale.

The Gould property borders the lower Laurence parcel to the north. The upper Laurence parcel is east of the Gould holdings, separated by BLM property, according to Hicks.

“He obviously recognized an opportunity to buy about 4,000 acres in the valley. It’s a huge parcel,” Taverna said. “Personally, I hope he will keep it in some kind of ranch capacity. I hope he isn’t another golf course developer.”

To the west, almost 6,000 acres are slated to become the Spring Valley Ranch golf course and residential development. The project, with three golf courses, 550 residences and an equestrian center, was formerly called Chenoa.

Both the Laurence and Gould properties, located in Garfield County, have been working ranches.

The Laurence lands, ranched by the late Rufus Merrill Laurence, are being sold by his heirs, a son and daughter. Estate taxes forced the sale, according to Julie Somerville, associate broker with Joe Hicks Real Estate.

The Gould ranch, owned by the late Dr. Virgil Gould, is being sold by his heirs, a son and daughter who now reside in California, Taverna said.

“It was very unusual that both the Laurence ranch and the Gould ranch became available at the same time,” he said.

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