Realtor says selling town is tough work

Updated February 20, 2018 - 12:50 pm

It’s not very often that a Realtor lands the opportunity to sell a whole town, but when Tony Castrignano’s friends and Henderson neighbors wanted to sell Nipton, California, they turned to him.

Gerald Freeman bought the town in 1985 and with his wife, Roxanne Lang, managed it on-site, then later remotely from Henderson. As Freeman’s health began to fail, they put the town on the market for $5 million in 2015. He passed away in 2016, a year before American Green bought it with plans to make it a cannabis-friendly, energy-independent destination.

It was a unique opportunity for him, said Castrignano, who is the owner and broker of Sky Mesa Realty, a commercial real estate company. Many of his colleagues doubted it would ever sell, he said.

“Nipton is so unique. Many other ghost towns are for sale in Nevada. People have approached us with them over the years, but none that have viable businesses and working solar power or are the gateway to a national conservation area.”

The listing attracted buyers representing entities from as far away as Israel and South Africa, with ideas to turn it into everything from a vertical plant farm, a college campus, a spa resort or a survivalist camp. None made the right offer, Castrignano said. It was always Freeman’s hope that Nipton evolve into a sustainable, organic community rather than being turned into a theme park.

In a 2016 interview with Real Estate Millions, Lang and Freeman said they hoped to turn the site over to someone “with a lot of energy” and “who’s committed to sustainability of the human race.”

Castrignano said the family is happy with the buyer’s intentions and plans.

“They’re going to expand upon what’s there, to do more of the same things,” he said.

He would not go out of his way to take on another town sale, Castrignano said, because of the amount of work involved.

“I took this on mainly because Nipton is so special and the strong bond I had with the sellers. I really wanted to get it done for them.”

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