The Great Bayport Land Swindle, Final Chapter

Ten years ago, Andersen Corporation, the world's largest window manufacturer, said it wanted to build a new factory in the Minnesota town of Bayport. According to the company, there was just one problem: a lack of suitable land. So Andersen turned to its friends in the legislature for help. In an end of the session deal, lawmakers voted to sell Andersen a 245-acre plot of public land known as the Bayport Wildlife Management Area. A low price--$1.3 million--was negotiated in view of the promise of as many as 3,000 new jobs.

A funny thing happened. The new factory never got built. Instead, in 2001, Andersen sold the land to an outfit called Contract Property Developers Co. for $7.25 million. When the developer then proposed an 800-unit subdivision for the former nature preserve, the locals howled. Not only had they lost a big chunk of public land, they complained, the project threatened to double the size of their scenic little river town virtually overnight. So the developer went back to the drafting board. On Monday night, the Bayport City Council wrote the final chapter to this distasteful real estate saga and voted unanimously to accept a compromise plan: 253 single family homes and 75 condos. In keeping with the spectacularly silly names favored by builders these days, the development is to be called "Inspiration."

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