You may have noticed TrueHoop's mention of Aubrey McClendon's latest (proposed) real-estate transaction involving the Saugatuck Dunes in Western Michigan.
At first blush, it's a relatively minor story - rich guy buys some land, gets into dispute with locals about his plans to build McMansions, sells off a chunk of the land, goes about his way. But, if one digs just a touch deeper, you can see that it's not as simple as it first appears.
You see, McClendon tried to sell this land previously ... and failed. Back in December, a tentative deal was in place to sell 171 acres of his more than 400 acres to the Saugatuck Township for $25 million, but the locals were unable to procure a grant from the State of Michigan that would have gone a long ways towards the purchase.
Now, 10 months later, McClendon is selling the property for $20 million, or $5 million less than he thought he'd get last year. And, it is important to note, that sale is still contingent on the Saugatuckians (?) getting a state grant and quite a big chunk of private funds, although they seem to think the money will be relatively pain-free (but, given the state of Michigan's economy, even the optimists are hedging their bets).
[Of further interest, McClendon purchased all 412 acres for the sum of $38 million in 2007, which works out to roughly $92,000 per acre. The lands he plans to sell now for $20 million total 171 acres, or roughly $116,000 per acre - a nice return on investment even at the steeply discounted price. That Aubrey - he didn't get rich by luck.]
And, of course, there are the ongoing legal complications involved. McClendon is refusing to pay property taxes on the land because he feels that the locals over-estimated the value of his land, and because he's irked that they re-zoned the land and changed the density from 1 home: 1.5 acre to 1 home:5 acres, essentially shrinking his number of possible homes from 300 to 80.
Essentially, Aubrey McClendon has, yet again, woven his own peculiar brand of antagonistic wizardry, creating a situation wherein the local residents detest him, while at the same time devaluing his own asset to the point where he has to take drastic steps to rectify a miserable situation.
The only difference is that the owner of the Sonix is not able to pack up the remaining land in the back of a moving truck and move it to Oklahoma City. If Aubrey McClendon wants to move forward with his plans to develop a passle of ridiculous mansions on those 241 acres, he's got to make nice with the local populace, something he has, to date, been either unwilling or unable to do.