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A Real Estate Deal That Spans The Earth

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A Real Estate Deal That Spans The Earth


A Real Estate Deal That Spans The Earth

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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For Sale: 160 acres of rolling hills in California that's perfect for a vineyard, a cattle ranch - or communication with outer space.

From member station KAZU, Krista Almanzan has the story.

KRISTA ALMANZAN, BYLINE: To understand how Silicon Valley businessman Jeffrey Bullis ended up owning the Jamesburg Earth Station, a former telecommunications center with a 10-story satellite dish, you have to think back to 2004. The real estate market was booming, and Bullis was visiting a friend in Carmel Valley on California's Central Coast, where homes can still sell for millions.

JEFFREY BULLIS: And I was like oh, I'd like to retire out here. What's available? What's a nice piece of property? And back then, he's like, well, nothing really good - he says - but the Earth Station's for sale. Why don't you go buy it?

ALMANZAN: So Bullis did - complete with a barn; small house; 21,000-square-foot, bomb-proof building; and that enormous satellite dish. For decades, the Jamesburg Earth Station was a relay point to broadcast countless historical events: Tiananmen Square, the Vietnam War, and…

NEIL ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man...

ALMANZAN: ...the Apollo 11 moon landing.

ARMSTRONG: giant leap for mankind.

ALMANZAN: Fiber optics replaced the Earth Station's function, so it closed in 2002. When Bullis bought it, he had to clean out a lot of obsolete equipment. As he walks through one of the now-cavernous, gymnasium-sized rooms, he says this has been his party house.

BULLIS: It's a great basketball room. And we have, you know - it's a shooting range, archery room. Kids come up; they have fun. That's what it's all about now.

BERT ARONSON: It would be the most unique sale I've ever made.

ALMANZAN: That's Bullis' real estate agent, Bert Aronson. The property is back on the market.

ARONSON: Hoping that somebody who wanted to have a - grow grapes out there might also want to store the finished product in the building - when they were finished.

ALMANZAN: As it turns out, the greatest interest in this property has been because of that satellite dish. NASA contractor Dennis Wingo is seriously looking at it. He's advising a team competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize. That's a $20 million award for the first privately funded team to get a rover to travel on the Moon.

DENNIS WINGO: We would control them from here. To me, that's way more fun that worrying about the past. As important as the past is, I kind of look for - towards the future.

ALMANZAN: At this point, Wingo hasn't made an offer so the property is still on the market. Asking price for the dish, the bunker and the land: $4.2 million.

For NPR News, I'm Krista Almanzan in Carmel Valley.


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