Katie & Jed Selby got into business as land developers in Colorado when their favourite piece of river was about to be bought by a timeshare operator who planned to close the river to the public.
The brother & sister are best known for their kayaking process, but the Denver Post says they’ve bought a 16ha parcel along the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, where they plan a 315-unit community that will increase the size of the river town by a third.
They’ve come up with a plan for a New Urbanism-based community featuring dense development mingling homes, offices & shops amid plazas & parks. The focal point of the project is the river, where the Selbys plan to build the world’s longest whitewater kayak park.
That particular story’s in the Denver Post (link below; I don’t know how long it will remain available).
It’s highly relevant in New Zealand for various reasons:
Â· Large tracts of New Zealand which could once be crossed by trampers in small numbers have been closed to public access for reasons of privacy, security or commercial interest
Â· Lifestyle subdivision was, at first, the creation of private-interest blocks in a group, then proceeded to specific-interest subdivisions such as vineyard or olive-growing or horse-riding
Â· The next step in lifestyle subdivision is the whole-village concept such as Remarkables Park & Jacks Point outside Queenstown
Â· And the step after that is to the creation of holdings such as the Colorado one, where the participants in the venture assure themselves of future use â€“ and possibly ensure non-participants don’t get a look in
Â· So the step after that will be the scramble to give the public more access to the outdoors than just strips of Queen’s chain around the country.
Some factors are peculiar to New Zealand:
Â· Coastline acquisition has pushed up prices for rural coastal property, especially within 2-3 hours’ drive of Auckland and
Â· Maori land ownership & commercial awakening will very likely drive this country towards ventures such as the Colorado kayakers are undertaking â€“ imagine leases over stretches of the Motu River to ensure a future for rafting there?
At all points of this exercise new commercial realities take effect, with significant impacts on value & price.
There are also wider repercussions:
Â· What’s New Zealand’s tourism growth based on? Geysers? Rest & recreation for the next group out of Asia (first the Japanese, now the Chinese)?
Â· How about a future based on adventure tourism â€“ enjoyment of the wild, mountainbiking, kayaking, extreme sports?
Â· And how about a future where that growth is constrained by landowners unwilling to take part?
Denver Post story: Paddling upstream