Two East County Towns Put Up for Sale – San Diego Business Journal

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CAMPO – The town of Campo is for sale, again.

Las Vegas real estate investor John Ray has put the East County community back on the market, with an asking price of $6.6 million, after failing to sell it in 2019.

“We had a few buyers. We had people calling from France. It just didn’t connect,” Ray said. “People get a second chance, I guess you’d say.”

Nicolas Hernandez
Top Gun CRE

Ray is also selling the nearby community of Bankhead Springs, sometimes called a ghost town, because many of the buildings visible from along Route 80 are vacant and dilapidated.

Ray wants $2.7 million for the Bankhead Springs property. He nearly sold Campo in 2019, but the deal fell through, and Ray took it off the market.

This time, Ray said that he will finance the deal if a buyer puts 50% down, “so I could get a bigger pool of buyers.”

He’s offering the same deal for Bankhead Springs.

Ray has owned Campo and Bankhead Springs since the early 2000s and said that he decided to sell the property because he figured he could make a profit on it.

Nicolas Hernandez, an associate with Top Gun CRE in Mission Valley, who is handling the sale of Campo, said that “We’ve had some interested parties. We’ll see if we can get a deal together.”

“It’s definitely a unique opportunity and there’s a limited buyer pool,” Hernandez said. “Right now, there are 16 acres divided into three parcels. They could be divided into smaller lots and sold individually.”

The Campo sale includes about 20 residential buildings, a U.S. Post Office, a church, a U.S. Border Patrol outpost, and a Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter.

“My thought is somebody would make it a destination resort, make it a get-away for people who want to get out of town,” Ray said. “That would be my intention if I kept it.”

Ray said the town’s rental housing is also a good investment.

“We have a waiting list for people who want to move into Campo, because the prices are so low,” Ray said. “If you compare the price between the city of San Diego and Campo, there’s a three-bedroom apartment I’m renting for like $1,100.”

By comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego in May was $2,360 in May, according to Zumper, an apartment listing service.

Campo has a storied history of shoot-outs and banditry, in part because of its proximity to the Mexican border. The town was also used as a cavalry camp dating back to 1878, according to a history of the community written by Russell F. Kimball for the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.

Highway Changes Create Ghost Town

The Bankhead Springs property covers about 100 acres divided into 15 parcels of land, according to Ford Campbell, a real estate agent with San Diego Estates who is marketing it on Ray’s behalf.

“If you drive out there, it does give the appearance of a ghost town,” Ford said, because some of the vacant buildings that are in the most need of repair are along the roadway.
“Those are the first things you see,” Ford said.

Ford Campbell
Real Estate Agent
San Diego Estates

“About two-thirds of the parcels have some sort of structure on them,” Ford said, including a former hotel and restaurant.

“About half of those are teardowns. You might be able to save a wall and rebuild a structure,” Ford said.

Like Campo, Ray said that Bankhead Springs “could be developed into a little destination as well.”

“With a name like Bankhead Springs, you’d think there’d be some hot springs, but I haven’t found any,” Ford said.

The town was named after John H. Bankhead, a former U.S. senator from Alabama who championed the development of Highway 80 and was the grandfather of actress Tallulah Bankhead.

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the nearby community of Jacumba was developed as a resort and Bankhead Springs was built as an alternative destination, Ford said.

“Bankhead Springs and Jacumba had kind of a downturn because of the development of the (Interstate) 8 freeway, which made Highway 80 irrelevant,” Ford said.n

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