Statement on 2006 Real Estate Activities
January 5, 2007
Following is a statement about Appalachian Land & Conservation Services real estate activities in 2006, by Appalachian’s president & CEO, Josh First.
“The year 2006 was a very good one from the standpoint of providing client services, such as public affairs, government affairs, and a variety of real estate and natural resource management consulting services. For a company that does not actively market itself or mine RFP’s, but which relies instead on word-of-mouth references among a select and small clientele, Appalachian did extremely well.
However, a core mission of Appalachian is conservation development, and the active pursuit and acquisition of sensitive lands; on this score, the company was unable to deliver much in 2006. Of special note is the last-minute failure to acquire a 2,200-acre estate with parcels in five counties in south-central Pennsylvania, which had been the focus of Appalachian since the fall of 2005 (a very strong real estate year). Appalachian had been approached by the estate as sole purchaser, and in turn offered conservation easements on critical tracts from the estate to a regional land trust. That land trust in turn decided that it alone wanted to acquire two key parcels from the estate. This situation placed us in the uncomfortable position of being in competition with an organization with which Appalachian is supposed to be coordinating. Despite having invested a full year in due diligence, planning, and fundraising to acquire the entire estate, Appalachian was persuaded at the last minute by conservation leaders to relinquish its interest in the land and to allow the land trust to acquire the parcels it wanted. No other significant conservation real estate purchases were contemplated, and so none were completed.
This particular situation raised the unanswered question about just how far a for-profit company with non-profit values can go without eventually competing with its natural partners. Other challenges have included our occasional inability, for several reasons, to find a non-profit holder for donated conservation easements, or to bargain-sale conservation easements to land trusts (which insisted on full donations).
As Appalachian grows and matures over time, we hope to find ways to bridge the gaps and avoid the pitfalls inherent in our unique business model. Otherwise, we would become just another bottom-line-driven developer and real estate investor group, and that is not who or what we are or represent. In 2007, our combined conservation values and commitment to robust profit margins drives us on to new horizons and exciting, rewarding projects.”
Josh First, President & CEO
Appalachian Land & Conservation Services Co., LLC