Rural East County town for sale

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SAN DIEGO -- Virtually all of the rural town of Campo in East County is up for sale.

As of last week, much of the town's historic center is on the market, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

A "relic of California's Old West," many of the town's buildings are nearly 80 years old. Now a sale including 28 residences and seven commercial buildings, including a church, Post Office, VFW hall and hardware store are listed for sale.

There is no public asking price: Agent Conor Brennan told the newspaper they will see what offers come in.

“This is a very unique opportunity for an investor to own the downtown portion of a small town,” he told the U-T. “It’s a very unique opportunity that doesn’t come around often.”

Brennan said the properties' owner, Las Vegas investor John Ray, is getting older and looking to simplify his holdings.

Reporter Phillip Molnar found that most residents he encountered in Campo last week weren't fazed by word of the sale, as they have seen the town change hands a few times over the generations.

Most of Campo was put up for sale in 1994 at an asking price of $1.75 million -- about $3 million today, when you adjust for inflation. There weren't public records on the exact final price, but people who live in town believe it sold for a bit less than that.

It's not yet clear whether someone who bought the town would want to clear space for development. Brennan believes the lot could afford for as many as 110 single-family homes.

Other investors might leave the town as-is but provide some much-needed rehabilitation, residents mused. A Hollywood studio could even invest in the town for shoots.

The owner of Campo's lumber and supply shop, perhaps its most vibrant business and unofficial town center, told Molnar he hopes the new owner sees value in his establishment as it stands.

“I’d like to keep it, basically, the same,” he said. “The store has the feel of an old-time hardware store.”

Read Molnar's full report here.

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