Vashon’s Misty Isle Farms for sale again; Dendreon’s stockholders stymied; Starbucks bottles its water in drought-stricken California.
A 525-acre estate on Vashon Island listed for $43 million could set a local sales record for residential property — if it fetches anything close to that.
But while homes priced at just 1 percent of that sum are selling in mere days, a spread like this doesn’t move so quickly; it’s been on the market since December.
Misty Isle Farms is the highest-price home for sale in Washington state, and among other things it features “one of the nicest privately owned arboretums in the country,” says Brad Vancour, the listing agent with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Kirkland.
The property has a 6,500-square-foot main house plus seven others for staff and friends; a 12,000-square-foot car-and-carriage showroom; and more than 3,000 trees, and hundreds of shrubs and flowers from around the world. There’s also a 2,200-foot landing strip for airplanes and a helipad to simplify “daily commuting” to Seattle, according to the listing.
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The late Seattle magnate Thomas J. Stewart assembled Misty Isle from 47 parcels, just as he built the food-distribution conglomerate Services Group of America over the decades into one of the state’s largest privately held businesses.
Stewart lived on the Vashon estate for years with his family, hosting annual picnics for the Republican Party of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
But in 2006, after the state Legislature enacted a new inheritance tax, Stewart moved SGA’s headquarters from Seattle to Scottsdale, Ariz.
In 2007, just as the housing bubble peaked, Misty Isle Farms was unsuccessfully put on the market for $125 million.
In 2010, Stewart, his wife and their daughter were among five people who died in a helicopter crash in Arizona.
Stewart’s son put the property up for sale again in December.
Vancour portrays it as a bargain. “Any place on the West Coast, any large property of that size near a major city would typically sell for $100 million or more,” he said. “We’re trying to attract an international buyer for that property at that price.”
While a homebuilder could theoretically buy Misty Isle and build 47 homes on it, the island’s water districts can make development difficult, said Jim Marsh, executive director of the Vashon Island Chamber of Commerce.
Over the years, “I’ve heard so many rumors it was just about for sale,” Marsh said. “We’ll believe it when we see the sale go through.”
Other luxury-home brokers say the $43 million price may be hard to swallow, even for a billionaire.
“Vashon Island has tons of other owners on it, so you lose that magic of a single-owner island,” said Wallace Gudgell, a Windermere broker on Orcas Island who sold Paul Allen’s 292-acre island in the San Juans in 2013 for $8 million.
The region’s current sales record for a home listed on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service is the 2012 sale of a Mercer Island mansion for $21.625 million. The mansion has more than 325 feet of waterfront and five structures, including the 14,650-square-foot main residence.
Windermere broker Tere Foster, whose team listed that home, now is marketing a Bellevue estate known as Bellalago for $32.8 million. The 11,520-square-foot mansion, with 265 feet of private waterfront facing Lake Washington, could set a record for the region.
Unlike the rest of the housing market, luxury homes can sit on the market for more than a year. A waterfront home on Mercer Island listed for $23.8 million in 2010 is finally under contract — though the deal hasn’t closed yet.
“People can pick whatever number they want for a property. It doesn’t mean it’s based in reality,” Foster said. “It takes a willing buyer and a seller. That’s what determines value.”
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Starbucks taps California for water
Starbucks says it’s looking for new water sources outside of the parched state of California for its Ethos bottled water, in the wake of reports that a lot of it comes from an especially drought-stricken part of the Golden State.
Starbucks says Ethos was created to draw attention to, and help alleviate, the global water crisis by devoting 5 cents per bottle to water and sanitation programs around the world.
But, as a Mother Jones report this past week pointed out, a large amount of Ethos water comes from a bottling plant in a region struck by its own water crisis — Central California. While residents of Merced, Calif., suffer from the consequences of the state’s severe drought, the plant — which is actually operated by Safeway — keeps bottling for the Starbucks-owned company.
Mother Jones says the water comes from a private spring — but also quotes a geologist working for the state who says pulling water from those springs can affect nearby communities.
Starbucks notes that it has shrunk store water consumption in its company-operated stores by 23 percent since 2008.
As for the water bottled in California, a spokeswoman wrote in an email that “we are now looking at alternative sourcing solutions for Ethos water outside of the state while still meeting our commitment to those in need in the developing world.”
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Judge rebuffs Dendreon stockholders
Dendreon, the bankrupt Seattle biotech whose assets were sold in March, didn’t mince words in fighting a last-minute plea by some stockholders that the company pay for a committee to represent their interests in the liquidation.
A judge in Delaware on Wednesday denied the motion to appoint an equity holders’ committee funded by Dendreon, but not before the company blasted the idea as backed by nothing more than “baseless assertions of unrealized value and unwarranted accusations of fraud and misconduct.”
Dendreon’s unsecured creditors are expected to get 72 to 75 cents on the dollar for their claims, the company said in a bankruptcy-court filing.
But stockholders will get nothing because the March sale of Dendreon’s pioneering prostate-cancer vaccine Provenge and related technology to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for $495 million “is insufficient to pay creditors in full,” the company said. Another $150 million or more would be needed just to repay the creditors, Dendreon said.
Noteholders owed about $625.7 million and other unsecured creditors with claims estimated at $4.3 million to $32.3 million, according to Bloomberg, are slated to vote on the final reorganization plan to distribute Dendreon’s cash.
The judge’s ruling means that if stockholders want to fight that plan at this late date, they’ll have to pay for their own attorneys.
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