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PARTHENON, Ark.— In an Ozark crag in north Arkansas, one of the country’s most high-maintenance homes — a cave tucked into a natural cavern — is gussied up and back on the market. Again.
The three-year, million-dollar renovation is the latest in a series of makeovers for the Beckham Creek Cave, which has passed through numerous hands since it was built as a bomb shelter in the early 1980s. The fully furnished cave and its 257 acres can be yours for just $2.75 million.
Today, the cave home is a carefully epoxied science-fiction bunker of rock walls, smooth concrete surfaces, black steel and stalactites. Still, moisture is a menace, so the newest renovation includes improved waterproofing. Two high-capacity geothermal units control the cave’s dampness and keep the year-round temperature a cool 65-degrees.
“We tell people to wear your sweats,” said the broker, Rayne Davidson. “You’re in a cave.”
It comes with four bedrooms and four baths, 5,500 square feet of living space, a spring-fed pond, rainy-season waterfall, a view of bluffs, helicopter pad, and a grand room anchored by a rock waterfall called the Spanish Piano. The back door accesses a “live cave” that extends more than a mile into the earth. This winding, undeveloped portion of the chasm is home to reptiles and rare bats.
The bat cave home is a millionaire’s retreat without all the supervillain stress. Still, it has seen plenty of drama.
John Hay, the co-founder of Celestial Seasonings who lives in Colorado, built the home for about a million dollars out of anxiety during the Cold War.
Friends from Arkansas brought him to the cave. “We built it out figuring if something was going to happen we’d have a place to go,” Mr. Hay said in a recent phone interview. He replaced the outer cave wall with two-foot thick cinder block, and installed a drinking water aqueduct and hydroelectric plant.
By the time the cave was finished, glasnost made it seem obsolete. “I didn’t know what to do, so I thought I would make it into a Hollywood home, and see if I couldn’t sell it for a decent price.” Upgrades included a “Fred Astaire dance floor” in the great room.
He succeeded, selling it in 1988 to a Missouri millionaire who reputedly threw lavish parties. Locals called the place “the mullet,” according to current housekeeper Sherill Ricketts, who attended several of the blowouts over the decades. “It looked all business in front but it was a party in back.”
Since then, the cave home changed hands and shape several times. For a while, Beckham Creek Cave operated as a resort, with rooms for up to $1,000 per night. The latest owner defaulted on his loan, transferring the cave to Houston investors.
They brought in Zach Lee, a young interior designer from Harrison, Ark. “It was the nastiest place I’d ever been,” Mr. Lee said. Someone had installed carpet and drywall, which were rank from the moisture. Mold remediation alone cost $20,000. Dated tile floors, brass fixtures and bidets needed removal.
Complicating everything was the fact that a cave has no straight lines, no right angles. “It was almost impossible to measure anything,” Mr. Lee said. Every point was a different measurement.
They reduced the loft over the kitchen to open up the grand room to more natural light. Stained concrete floors work with the natural texture of the cave while resisting moisture. Mr. Lee softened the look with cedar doors and headboards of repurposed barn wood, locally sourced. And he installed a honeylocust wet bar with a live edge, cut from the property.
In the bedrooms, crews installed rubberized membranes behind wooden slats on the ceilings and walls to prevent drips. New French drains usher water away.
Still, the cave lives. Inside, the sound of rushing water is omnipresent. As Ms. Davidson gave a recent tour, she dodged a falling water drop, “There’s a drip,” she said. Small puddles still form under some stalactites.
Ms. Davidson said interested parties view it as a getaway or a lodge that might serve future nearby cabins. The trick is getting people to visit.
“They almost always say the pictures did not do it justice. You just can’t capture the energy of it — the vastness of it.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include additional flight information, schedules and quotes from California Pacific Airlines COO Mickey Bowman.
CARLSBAD — On Saturday, California Pacific Airlines makes its debut over the skies of Denver.
Although CP Air will not service Denver from Carlsbad, the airline announced its long-awaited service from McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad begins with commercial flights to San Jose and Reno, Nevada, on Nov. 1. Flights to Las Vegas start Nov. 15, according to CP Air Chief Operating Officer Mickey Bowman.
CP Air announced two weeks ago it was slated for a Nov. 1 launch date.
The company’s Denver service comes with its purchase of Aerodynamics last year, which already had several routes and contracts in operation. But now, CP Air is moving forward with its West Coast operation.
“We are excited to bring this to market,” Bowman said. “With a no-hassle airport, this will bring back the joy of flying.”
CP Air’s schedule includes two round trips on weekdays to San Jose with single-day round-trip flights to Reno on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. As for San Jose, CP Air will also fly once per day on weekends.
Flights to Las Vegas, meanwhile, will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Passengers will commute on 50-seat Embraer 145 airplanes.
Bowman said the tech industry directed the airliner to service San Jose and Reno. Reno has become a sort of Silicon Valley suburb with Tesla’s gigafactory (battery production) and other companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Switch and Intuit, to name a few, have set up operations.
As for Las Vegas, it’s a desired leisure destination, Bowman said. Reno also provides some capacity for leisure with its close proximity to Lake Tahoe, but the primary driver was the tech industry.
“We believe there is great demand from the tech sector, in particular, for San Jose,” Bowman added. “It sort of kicks off two very strong areas of demand, we feel, that we’re seeing from North County. There has also been a tremendous amount of growth in Reno. Finally, Vegas is Vegas. There is always demand for service to Vegas and we felt needed to be done sooner rather than later.”
Customers, he added, can begin making reservations for the Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 flights. CP Air’s website for ticketing is live and can book reservations up to 11 months.
As for pricing, CP Air’s fares range between $99 to Las Vegas and San Jose and $148.99 to Reno. The airline offers both refundable and nonrefundable tickets with the nonrefundable tickets being less expensive.
Bowman said the company compared prices from major airliners flying out of San Diego International Airport, especially Southwest, to determine CP Air’s price point. Although some prices may be more expensive, convenience of avoiding a minimum 35-minute drive, parking costs between $10 and $40 and less time in security lines adds value to the cost of CP Air’s tickets. Parking at McClellan-Palomar Airport is just $5 per day.
“We spent a lot of time studying the fare offerings out of San Diego,” Bowman explained. “We feel that the conveniences offered out of Carlsbad, in particular, justify a little bit of a premium. Not a huge amount. There are some fairly cheap one-way offerings out there.”
Also, Bowman said the company will announce later this week or early next week at least one new destination. Company representatives said in May other target destinations include Phoenix and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“Today’s (Aug. 27) announcement marks the culmination of a multi-year effort that will bring significant convenience in air travel between San Diego’s North County and the top Western-Region destinations our community wants to fly to nonstop,” California Pacific Airlines Chairman Ted Vallas said in a statement. “California Pacific Airlines will bring the north county a new-found convenience in air travel options. Our initial set of cities will address the needs of both business and leisure travelers from nearby McClellan-Palomar Airport. Passengers can spend less time fretting the drive to and from the airport and spend more time enjoying their destination.”
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Sam Schoensee, a 14-year-old in Cape Coral, Fla., has a hectic soccer schedule packed with club practices, tournaments, and one-on-one coaching. But his thrice-weekly, 7:30 a.m. training sessions before school are a breeze.
That’s because they take place in his backyard, where his parents, Kevin and Nicole Schoensee, spent roughly $120,000 to build a 93-by-40-foot professional-quality turf soccer pitch behind their 8,135-square-foot home, purchased in 2013 for $713,000 and renovated for another $700,000. There, a professional youth soccer coach leads Sam and about five other players his age in drills and other training.
Rod Brind’Amour, shown in red T-shirt, with his family on the athletic court of his Raleigh, N.C., home. PHOTO:ANDREW SHERMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
For the Schoensees, the turf field has not only helped Sam become “a ridiculously talented soccer player,” according to his dad, it has become a cornerstone of their social life. After training, Sam and his friends all walk to school together. In the evening, “the parents have cocktails while the kids play on the field,” said Mr. Schoensee, the 55-year-old owner of an equipment-repair company and commercial real-estate investor.
The Schoensees are part of a trend in youth sports in which wealthy parents build quasi-professional sports facilities at their homes—in some cases because they believe their children have the potential to become college or professional players and they want to do everything they can to help them get there. While tennis courts and swimming pools have long been de rigueur in high-end real estate, more families are building gyms, rinks and courts to help advance their child-athlete’s aspirations. Parents say their backyard training facilities cut down on driving young athletes around and give them the extra opportunities for development they need to be on top of their game.
Mr. Brind’Amour with one of his sons practice indoors. The home is on the market for $3 million. PHOTO: ANDREW SHERMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
It’s happening at a time when celebrities, executives and pro athletes are increasingly vocal about their ambitions for their children in sports. Technology executive Scott McNealy listed his Palo Alto, Calif., estate for nearly $100 million in June, touting the home’s enclosed ice-hockey rink, 110-yard golf green and indoor gym that he says helped develop his four sons into top college and professional athletes.
Rod Brind’Amour, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes who played 20 seasons in the NHL, spent roughly $80,000 to install a volleyball/basketball/hockey facility—with a baseball batting cage and small putting green—in the backyard of his custom home in Raleigh, N.C., about 10 years ago.
The Chicago home of Mason and Abby Phelps has a gymnasium. PHOTO: BOB STEFKO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The volleyball court was intended for his daughter, Briley, who is now 20 and plays volleyball at James Madison University. A hockey portion has synthetic ice—no freezing arenas here—and allows Mr. Brind’Amour’s oldest son, Skyler, to practice shooting when he is home. ( Skyler Brind’Amour, 19, was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 NHL draft.) The youngest child, 6-year-old Brooks, horses around on all the equipment. Only 17-year-old Reece is not into sports, said Mr. Brind’Amour, who is 47.
The Brind’Amours are looking to downsize as the older children leave home, and they listed the 11,884-square-foot house in May for $3 million. In their next home, Mr. Brind’Amour said “100% we will do a facility like this again,” geared to whatever sports Brooks becomes interested in.
Youth sports facilities spending in the U.S. and Canada hit $3.6 billion in 2017, with $320 million of that spent on private facilities in private homes and residential communities, according to WinterGreen Research, a market-research firm in Lexington, Mass.
“This is a huge, huge thing for rich people to build for their kids,” said WinterGreen’s president Susan Eustis.
Demand for at-home practice facilities has created a lucrative niche for brands like UltraBaseSystems in St. Petersburg, Fla. These permeable, interlocking panels create a shock-absorbing base under turf. President David Barlow said in the past couple of years, he has provided panels for roughly 12 private homeowners building soccer or lacrosse pitches. One of his designers, Joe DeShayes, owner of DeShayes Dream Courts in Cherry Hill, N.J., builds about 55 courts and 12 golf greens a year. Another designer built a $150,000, 2,000-square-foot golf green for a client’s 12-year-old son, he said.
The Cape Coral, Fla., home of Kevin and Nicole Schoensee. They bought the home specifically so they could build a soccer pitch in the backyard. PHOTO: ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Custom Ice in Burlington, Ontario, said some customers have spent $2.5 million to $4 million to build enclosed, regulation-size hockey rinks at their homes. “I call sports today ‘high-school pro,’ ” said vice president Glenn Winder.
Real-estate agents often say that owners who put highly individualized or specialty features in their homes risk losing money when it comes time to sell. Abby and Mason Phelps thought about this while including a basketball gym in their roughly 12,000-square-foot home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
“We made sure the dimensions of the court are bigger than a racquetball or squash court so it can be reformatted,” said Mr. Phelps, 39, a derivatives trader who played volleyball in college.
The Schoensees’ pool and desk, where soccer players’ parents hang out while the kids train. PHOTO: ALEXIA FODERE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Jill Silverstein, a real-estate agent who specializes in luxury homes with Dream Town Realty, said that a family friendly feature like the gym could actually help at resale in this neighborhood. Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson, the architects who designed the Phelps home, said the gym accounted for roughly $350,000 of construction costs in 2014. Ms. Silverstein, who has not been inside the Phelps house, estimated that a comparable home could sell for roughly $6.5 million and $7 million if it were listed today.
The couple didn’t even have children when they began designing the home, but today they have three. Ms. Phelps, 38, who owns two Pilates studios, said sports are important to both her and her husband, but it remains to be seen if their children will embrace them.
“When we first put our 2-year-old down there, she walked to the free-throw line and read a book,” said Mr. Phelps with a chuckle. “But we’re still hoping that they grow into athletes.”
The Ken Whalen Surf Challenge is in memory of Ken’s love for family, surf and the beach. The goal for the event is to encourage kids (16 and under) and challenged athletes to strengthen their connection with surfing by competing and having a fun day at the beach with their friends and family.
Contestants will surf in one 15 minute heat (no advancing) and receive a goody bag full of free surf stuff. Lunch will be served to contestants and their families.
Check out the post from the La Jolla Light!
DON’T HAVE A SURFBOARD – THAT’S OK. WE WILL SUPPLY A BOARD.
EVERY PARTICIPANT WILL RECEIVE A FREE EVENT T-SHIRT!
NO COST TO ENTER THE COMPETITION (LIMITED TO FIRST 250 PARTICIPANTS)
COMPLIMENTARY FOOD WILL BE PROVIDED AT THE EVENT
For the most part, Oprah Winfrey’s list of favorite things is ever-changing. But if there’s one thing that stays constant, it’s the media mogul’s penchant for seriously enviable real estate.
The talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist has reportedly owned homes across country, from a mansion in Montecito and an estate in Florida to a farmhouse in Maui. Her latest get is another island home—but don’t expect to see palm trees and warm white-sand beaches here. Instead, Oprah’s opted to cozy up in the quiet, lush, and impossibly picturesque San Juan Islands.
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