Monday, October 5, 2009

A Bit of This and That

Here's an idea. You own, say, 20 acres of land, very well-forested, and along comes a company that will pay you for the rights to drill for natural gas on your property. Your neighbors are doing it, the company insists that there really may be a strong vein underneath, and the wells will be full. Their price for the rights: over $5,000 per acre. Once the gas starts flowing the sky's the limit. Would you do it?

Think about it. It's happening here in Central New York but not at those prices yet. In Pennsylvania owners are reaping incredible rewards for having land and giving the companies their chance. They actually write the checks in full. The Beverly Hillbillies are alive and well and living in PA.

I've been doing a lot of driving up north lately. Outdoor furnaces are the rage, burning up wood that owners get for the cost of felling and splitting from their own properties. Entire barns are given over to the wood. I heard that these furnaces contribute to pollution, but I am far from understanding that. So wood simple wood-burning stoves, I would think. But it's interesting to see a boiler sitting out several feet away from the houses.

The Home section of the Sunday Post-Standard contained a lengthy article on an "Art House." This is a home built for sale by Kathy Kotz. She will contribute $10,000 from the proceeds of the sale to Elmcrest Children's Center on Syracuse's east side for their new building. The house is furnished and decorated with art from local artists which will in turn be sold with a portion going to Elmcrest, also. Great idea!

During my driving up north I've listened to NPR a great deal. Somewhere along the way there was a show about peer-to-peer lending. People are eschewing banks and going directly to other people who bankroll their project. Apparently the idea hasbeen taking off in the present financial crisis. Repayment is close to perfect - much more compelling to pay back funds to someone who has helped you out in a bind. I've worked with this concept before when selling land. Banks hate to mortgage land and generally won't do it. They are also not so thrilled with outhouses, especially when a septic system can't be installed. This peer-to-peer lending may be the way for people to help others own property.

And lastly, hooray! Urban Outfitters is coming to Walton Street in Armory Square! Coming in the spring of 2010! Apparently this chain of stores can do for city life what Bass Pro has done for the Finger Lakes Mall. So buy your lofts and condos now - prices will go up once other stores follow. Could this actually be the real catalyst to a new downtown era?