HIGH ISLAND — A Dallas real-estate firm has purchased almost 2,800 acres of raw ranch land on Bolivar Peninsula, snapping up one of the largest remaining beachfront properties on Texas' coast.
Provident Realty Advisors, in partnership with The PLN Cos., purchased the land, where cows still graze on a site known as the Cade Ranch.
The seller was Crown Team Texas, a development firm that has, through affiliate companies, invested about $30 million in the past four years acquiring and developing peninsula land and infrastructure.
Neither Provident, nor Crown Team Texas, would divulge the purchase price of the tract, which includes 13,000 feet of waterfront.
The acquisition marks Provident's first foray into barrier island real estate, said Jay Hawes, development partner for the firm. Provident has no immediate plans for the land, he said.
But the booming Bolivar Peninsula, averaging about 90 building permits a year, is an attractive investment at a time when large tracts of beachfront property are disappearing, Hawes said.
Only about 6.5 percent of Texas' coastal property remains, said John Endendyk, who with Bruce Endendyk of CB Richard Ellis' Land Services Group represented Crown Team Texas in the sale.
Most of the coastal land is being developed or reserved as federal and state parks.
The Cade Ranch is northwest of the intersection of state Highways 24 and 87 near High Island. In 1879, C. T. Cade made headlines for moving the largest herd on record — 23,000 head — across the Neches River. Cade, according to online reports citing The Daily News, was known for his yearly cattle drives from High Island to his ranch in Iberville Parish, La.
Jim Hayes, a principal in Crown Team Texas, purchased the ranch several years ago from the Cade family.
Until the sale to Provident, Hayes and partners owned almost 8,000 acres. Hayes is behind several luxury residential projects on the peninsula. Allco, an affiliate of Crown Team Texas, has spent $3 million so far to develop a sewer treatment plant to accommodate residential development. Peninsula residents rely on septic tanks.
Provident's acquisition marks the second time in as many years that an investment group has purchased such a sizable chunk of ranch land in Galveston County.
Last year, Chicago real estate firm Marquette Land Investments paid almost $33 million for 1,050 acres that was long a part of Chapoton Ranch on the island's West End.
Cows also graze on the Chapoton property, where development of a large resort-style project is generating controversy among environmentalists who fear the scope of the project would hurt a sensitive ecosystem. Some locals also say it would generate too much traffic.
Baby boomers and retirees are fueling beach front development, Endendyk said.
Texas land prices still are cheap enough to keep the costs of condominiums and homes reasonable, he said.
“Prices are achievable to the average consumer,” Endendyk said.