Become Lord of All You Survey at 33,777-Acre Sandow Lakes Ranch

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Do you look at Walnut Place’s paltry 25 acres and $48.9 million price tag in the same way I look at a tent and sleeping bag?  Do you find having a home in the same county as your garage off-putting? Was the Waggoner Ranch a little too close to Oklahoma?  Well, listen up.

The $250 million Sandow Lakes Ranch is located about an hour from Austin and pretty much dead-east of Georgetown. I say “about” and “pretty much” because at 33,777 acres, it’s hard to be precise.  No, that’s not a typo.  The ranch is 52.78 square miles. Slap a mortgage on that and your monthly nut might hit $1.8 million.

Granted, it’s no 800-square-mile, six-county Waggoner Ranch, but it does stretch over three Texas counties (Bastrop, Lee, and Milam). One thing the two ranches share is Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent and Australian-turned-Texan Bernie Uechtritz, the king of ranch sales. His listings are often so hard to wrap your head around, we can’t help but write about them in amazement.

Trade in city pigeons for country pelicans

Instead of a swimming pool, Sandow Lakes sports 14 lakes covering 1,960 acres. There’s so much water, they sell it.  The ranch also leases some of its land and sells hay … there’s a lot of hay to be made here.  In fact, the ranch generates over $2 million from these arrangements.

Water brings wildlife.  Whether you want to shoot ‘em or watch ‘em, there’s plenty of ‘em. Listing agent Uechtritz says you’ll see whitetail deer, wild hogs, javelina (skunk pig and A&M-Kingsville mascot), bobcats, coyotes, turkey, dove, quail, American bald eagles, red tail hawks, mallards, wood ducks, teal, cranes, great blue herons, cormorants, pelicans, and geese. Below the water there are hybrid Florida bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, red ear perch, tilapia, channel catfish, crappie, sunfish perch, and chad.

Making hay

There’s also an industrial complex covering 6,000 acres of the property that’s fully utility’d with its own water treatment and waste disposal.  There’s even a railhead and multiple roadways for trucks supporting a manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facility.

Yes, there’s coal under here. But if you’re wealthy enough to buy this place, you’re wealthy enough to leave it be.

Perhaps you’re more a mineral and mining kinda person.  Well, there are 5,564 acres with full oil and gas rights … another 22,489 acres with 60 percent rights.  Not enough?  How about the potential for 200 million tons of lignite (brown coal) below the Sandow land?  A new owner gets 100 percent of those mineral rights.

Unfortunately, not only is coal not the energy source of the future, but brown coal is considered the lowest ranking coal because it doesn’t burn hot. It’s also the second worst for carbon dioxide emissions when burned.  Interestingly, there’s a use that’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t involve burning.  It can be used in farming to suppress disease-causing microbes in plants, reducing the need for pesticides.  So not all bad.

But if energy is the game, surely with 33,777 acres there has to be a solar play here, right?

Acreage this size offers many possibilities for making the land pay for itself.  Some more disruptive and destructive than others. Hopefully this ranch is purchased by someone who views stewardship as their responsibility as much as turning a profit.

As I see it, the most environmentally responsible way to make money off this parcel is to build the world’s largest nudist colony and wildlife preserve.  At 52.78 square miles, you’d make a killing selling sunscreen.

Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for and, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home.  In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email