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Can Four People Use Retirement Savings to Restore an Entire Town? (Keddie, California)

MILEAGE TALLY: 306/1,000

A few years ago I used a self-directed IRA to purchase vacant property across from our house. Self-directed IRAs are typically used for real estate development so you can add rental income into your retirement savings — but that’s not the only thing you can do with them. I used a self-directed IRA to prevent the development of an empty city lot (aside from landscaping it).

Through this process I met an individual with an interesting project: using retirement funds — in conjunction with three other investors — to revitalize a rural outpost with a major marketing problem. The outpost is Keddie, California, population 66. This scenic spot was a popular resort until a chilling unsolved murder in the early 1980s destroyed it.

To protect this person’s identity s/he will not be named, but, I think you’ll find the perspective interesting and inspiring.

Keddie, CA

 

Do you know of anyone else who has used their self-directed IRA to buy a town?

The Keddie Project has 4 owners.  Three, including myself, used their IRAs to make this purchase.  The 4th owner used his 401K.  We acquired the town by way of a trade or exchange of properties. Originally, we all invested our IRAs in 13 acres of lake front land and planned to subdivide it into 40 lots.  Unfortunately, the housing market crash forced a long delay in our plans.  Ultimately we worked a great deal with the corporation that owned Keddie.

 

What business(es) exist or are planned for your town?

When the Union Pacific pulled their maintenance station out of Keddie several years ago, the restaurant and hotel businesses had to find new customers.  The then owner turned the businesses into student housing and cafeteria services.  A few years before we acquired the town, the students moved to college housing and the businesses closed.  Our plan is to complete the initial rehab of the 20 remaining cabins, which will take approximately 2 to 2 1/2 more years.  We then hope to attract other IRA investors to the project to raise enough funds to complete the rehab in the restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, grocery store, theater, convention center, day spa and amphitheater.  All businesses will be rehabbed to current safety codes and be ADA compliant.

Why do you feel confident making these investments?  

We have experienced phenomenal support from the local government officials, local townspeople and previous Keddie residents.  As an example, the retired high school Vice Principal brings his own landscape maintenance tools and donates his time to help clean up the grounds.  He grew up in Keddie.  

 

The township of Keddie, California, founded in 1910, has a rich railroad history.  The town was named by and for Arthur W. Keddie (1842 – 1924), who is credited in founding the Western Pacific Railroad on March 3, 1903.  Arthur W. Keddie was referred to as “The Father of the Beckwith Pass and the North Fork Transcontinental Railroad Route” and once served as a United States Deputy Surveyor.  Folks who worked on the Western Pacific Railroad founded a railroad museum in a local town.  They refer to Keddie as the Holy Grail of their history.  The officials of the museum have offered us a Dining Car and possibly a WP locomotive to be housed at Keddie.  The Dining Car would be an attachment to the new restaurant.  My partner found a restaurant owner in Sacramento looking to sell all the restaurant equipment in a newly acquired restaurant.  After [name omitted] told the owner about our project, he actually donated everything to us.  His estimate of the value of the equipment we acquired was $250,000.00.  It’s all housed in the lodge at Keddie, waiting for the final rehab to start.  On a final note about our level of confidence, one of my tenants not only was born at Keddie, but his father owned Keddie at one time.  That tenant is a licensed Contractor and is donating his labor to do some of the rehab.

 

How walkable is Keddie?

Keddie is a town in a forest.  It’s only 40 acres and is totally walkable.  You can even walk down to the river that flows, year around, through Keddie.  (Yes, we own the river too.)  We plan to some day acquire adjacent properties and develop great walking trails along the river.
[NOTE: "Location lottery" assets!]

 

What other plans do you have for Keddie’s revitalization/growth?

The restoration project planned for Keddie is designed to fit into the needs of the local communities in Plumas County.  Currently the local community of Quincy is suffering a severe downturn in their economy.  The unemployment rate is double the national average at 19.8%.  This project is designed to ultimately hire approximately 60 temporary and permanent tradespeople from the local area.  The planning process takes into account the need to bring the housing units and commercial businesses up to current building and safety codes.  There is also a major interest in designing the various rehab projects to be as “green” as possible.  The final rehab project will allow us to hire the following local tradesman:

  • General Contractor: 1
  • Electrician: 1
  • Carpenter: 2
  • Energy Consultant: 1
  • Roofers: 3
  • Tree Service workers: 3
  • Portable lumber mill service: 2
  • Plumbers: 2
  • Painters: 4
  • Security Personnel: 3
  • Housekeeping Staff: 5
  • Wait Staff: 12
  • Cooks: 3
  • Baker: 1
  • Gardeners: 2
  • Stone Mason: 1
  • General Laborers: 4
  • Bookkeeper: 1
  • Network Administrator: 1
  • Resort Manager: 1
  • Day Spa workers / masseuses: 2
  • Restaurant Manager: 1

My goal is to eliminate of about 1/2 of the local town’s unemployment.  Cool thing to do with an IRA, huh!

Absolutely! Anything else you’d like to add about relocating to a small town / business building / etc?

The way the project is designed and currently working, the big ticket items are funded by our IRAs.  The intermediate rehab of the cabins is funded by the cabins’ rent.  Essentially, the town is building itself back by itself (given our design).  I give tenants very cheap rent in exchange for their volunteer labor to continue the rehab work. The idea of this project comes from a form of martial art named Aikido.  In Aikido you use the energy of an opponent (our little town) and redirect it into a positive direction. [emphasis added] If used correctly, you use very little of your own energy to accomplish your goal. I hope my ramblings have made sense.  If not let me know and I’ll try to further clarify our ideas.

photo: SP8245

5 responses to “Can Four People Use Retirement Savings to Restore an Entire Town? (Keddie, California)”

  1. cheryl durrett

    just drove through Keddie. Your idea sounds great but who will be the visitors and how do you hope to recoup your investment?

  2. Homer Reed

    My family used to vacation at Keddie in the 40′s as my grandfather Will Neal managed the Pleasant View Housing Project. My brothers and I have many great memories of our vacations summers and winters at Keddie. I would love to see the town come back to life and maybe see the old Richfield gas station rebuilt as well as the soda fountain. Good luck !!!

  3. Don Sweet

    Hi Katie,
    I would like to talk to you off line from your blog…
    Don

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