Cal-Nev-Ari: A town and casino for sale
Located by the California and Arizona borders, Cal-Nev-Ari is off of a stretch of Highway 95 and has a population of roughly 350 people, NPR reported. But 51 years ago, the sleepy desert town had a population of just two people: Nancy and Slim Kidwell who, along with their cat and dog, founded Cal-Nev-Ari.
Nancy Kidwell explained that she and her late husband founded the town around an abandoned airstrip. For some, a dusty military runway would not be a draw. However, for the two aviators, the thought of building a town around it was a dream that they were determined to have a reality. Using the Pittman Land Act, the couple purchased 650 acres of land in 1965, the Press Democrat reported.
In order to settle the vacant land, they had to prove that the town could sustain itself by digging a well, rigging up an irrigation system, and planting 20 acres of barely. "It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude because there's a lot of hardships," Nancy Kidman told NPR, adding, "No power out here in the middle of the summer. We could work until about noon and then we had to get in the shade cause it just got too hot."
The two went on to use the airstrip to market the Cal-Nev-Ari as the first fly-in casino town in the state. Cal-Nev-Ari is by no means bustling, but over the years retirees have found themselves in the mobile homes while pilots use the town’s dirt roads to taxi planes from driveways to the runway.
Slim Kidman passed away in 1983 and her second husband died in 2011, leaving the responsibility of the town to Nancy. At 78, the woman who her employees view “like a mother” is ready to retire. She told NPR, "I'm not going to be here forever. And I have to provide for the future of this town while I'm still able to do so."
Small town sends armored vehicle, 24 officers to collect debt from 75-year-old http://t.co/Iq4v0iH68i— RT America (@RT_America) October 29, 2014
Prior to the real estate market crash, Kidman courted multiple offers for the town. However, the recession caused buyers to lose interest. The price was set at $17 million in 2010 and has since dropped to $8 million with Cal-Nev-Ari's casino, diner, convenience store, 10-room motel, RV park and mile-long dirt airstrip thrown in.
With most of the town industry just breaking even, Listing broker Fred Marik explained that the possibilities for Cal-Nev-Ari are bountiful. So far, he has received inquiries from buyers looking to use the land for a retirement community, a renewable energy project, a motorsports park, a survival school, a dude ranch, a shooting range, or even a marijuana resort – pending legalization.
What happens to Cal-Nev-Ari is left to be seen, but Kidman is ready to pass the torch.
"It's time for someone else to do something with it," the 78-year-old said. "Fifty-one years is long enough."