Are You In The Market For A TOWN?


2 minute read

February 24, 2010

No, not a townhouse.

An actual town!

Last month, an entire town in the former Soviet Union was sold via auction for over $3 Million US.

What the heck would you do with a whole TOWN?


As first reported in The Huffington Post… 

SKRUNDA, Latvia — Latvia sold a deserted town built around a Soviet-era radar station to a Russian investor who bid $3.1 million at an unusual auction Friday, officials said.

The town formerly known as Skrunda-1 housed about 5,000 people during the Cold War but was abandoned over a decade ago after the Russian military withdrew from Latvia following the Soviet collapse.

A representative of a Russian investor won the bidding contest in Latvia’s capital, Riga, with an offer of 1.55 million lats ($3.1 million), said Anete Fridensteina-Bridina, a spokeswoman for the Baltic country’s privatization agency. She said the buyer was Aleksejevskoje-Serviss, a Russia-based firm, though she could not provide details.

It wasn’t immediately clear what plans the buyer had for the 110-acre (45 hectare) property, which is located in western Latvia about 95 miles (150 kilometers) from Riga. The town contains about 70 dilapidated buildings, including apartment blocks, a school, barracks and an officers’ club.

Built in the 1980s, Skrunda-1 was a secret settlement not marked on Soviet maps because of the two enormous radar installations that listened to objects in space and monitored the skies for a U.S. nuclear missile attack. Like all clandestine towns in the Soviet Union, it was kept off maps and given a code-name – which usually consisted of a number and the name of a nearby city.

After the Soviet Union fractured in 1991, a newly independent Latvia was eager to scuttle all Soviet military bases and expel Russian troops. Russia’s Defense Ministry, however, continued to rely on Skrunda’s early warning system, and as a result the radar base was for years used as a negotiation tool between Washington and Moscow.

One of the radar buildings – dubbed Pechora – was enormous, soaring 60 meters (180 feet). In May 1995, it was ceremoniously blown up by a U.S. demolition firm using over a ton of dynamite.

Finally, in 1998 the last residents of Skrunda-1 departed, leaving behind hundreds of vacant apartments and dozens of buildings. Talk about transforming the town into a recreational area went nowhere, and finally two years ago Latvia’s government decided to put the entire settlement on the auction block.

Sarmite Stradniece, a resident of Skrunda, which is 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Skrunda-1, praised the idea to sell the former military base. “They need to restore that place and let some people live there,” she said.



$1.55 Million Lats, eh?

That’s a lot of Lats!

I can’t even try to picture 1.55 Million of these:



“Lats” aren’t just muscles in your back?

“Lats” also refers to a currency?

Well even better then!  Here I was thinking that bodybuilders were simply invading a Latvian ghost town!

Remember the article I posted a while back about the Toronto investor who bought the Pontiac Superdome in Detroit for $583,000?  That seemed pretty strange; a man buying decrepit 80,000 seat stadium.

But who buys an entire town?  70 buildings, most of them falling over!

I’m curious to know what the Russian investment firm who purchased the town is going to do with it down the road.

Perhaps they’ll have their company retreats there?  Maybe a few snowball fights and the odd game of paintball?

Well, now I’ve seen it all.  One buyer snaps up an entire TOWN.

I wonder what it would cost to buy all of Ajax…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Geoff

    at 11:12 am

    I’d rather live in Latvia than Ajax. Easier commute to Toronto too.

  2. Chuck

    at 8:18 pm

    @ Geoff – hilarious, and true!

  3. Destructicus

    at 2:14 pm

    I was totally thinking “paintball” too. Hilarious.

  4. waqasalirealtor

    at 2:29 pm

    good job by Sarmite Stradniece

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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