The Walton properties
Rocking W Ranch at Millsap – 1,436 acres that straddle the Parker-Palo Pinto county line
Fortune Bend/Dark Valley areas – 4,416 acres in Palo Pinto county, west of Mineral Wells
Brochures include photos of rolling, wooded land, stunning river views, and residences, barns and arenas. Videos are available on www.coalson.com
Weatherford – All the elements of an iconic Texas land deal are here: The billionaire WalMart heiress is in the mood to sell her ranchlands in Parker and Palo Pinto counties. Two of the men tasked with marketing Alice Walton’s prime properties are the same ones who put the spectacular Brazos River tracts together for her, a few hundred acres at a time.
The two listings include the 1,436-acre Rocking W Ranch at Millsap, straddling the Parker-Palo Pinto county line, and farther west, the Fortune Bend/Dark Valley areas that encompass 4,416 acres in Palo Pinto, west of Mineral Wells.
The price tag on Rocking W Ranch has been dropped from last fall’s $19.75 million to $16.5 million, according to Mac Coalson, longtime Parker County real estate broker. “The business right now is soft, due to the plunge in oil and gas prices,” Coalson said. “And presidential election years are always a little bit harder.”
Walton, currently a Fort Worth resident, moved from Arkansas to Texas some 18 years ago to breed cutting horses and immerse herself in the equine culture she loves. She hired Coalson and his son, McAllen Coalson, to begin shopping for land in the horse-loving Weatherford-Mineral Wells area about three years before she moved.
“I’ve known Alice since 1998, when she originally bought Magic Valley Ranch, which is just across the river from Rocking W Ranch,” said Mac Coalson, who offices out of his own 1,000-acre family ranch, Coalson Acres, near Mineral Wells. The Coalsons were not involved in the Magic Valley sale.
Coalson, 76, knows the area well. He was born in Garner, northwest of Weatherford, and graduated from Texas Christian University. He has been selling real estate for 50 years, though he started out as an accountant and then worked in oil and gas before devoting himself to real estate full time.
“It’s a lot different” selling ranch land now, he said. “There’s a lot more people we sell to from out of state.”
Developers, not so much.
“Most of the ones that we sell are kept for ranching,” he said. “We deal with a lot of horse ranches due to the cutting horse industry and the popularity of equine sports.”
Current prices for acreage in the Brazos River area are about $5,000 to $6,000 an acre, going up to about $8,500 to $12,500 an acre for land closer to the Fort Worth-Dallas area, Coalson said.
Allen Crumley, a farm and ranch broker with Williams Trew in Fort Worth, is also a partner in the marketing of the properties.
Coalson said they have shown Rocking W to a few potential buyers since it went on the market in September. “She wants to sell the whole thing complete. It has irrigation and impoundment rights, which is unique for a ranch and which is very important,” he said. “The big draw on the property is, you could build a 50-acre lake on it with the impoundment rights.”
The Rocking W Ranch also fronts Interstate 20 and has improvements including nine dwellings. There is a 3,853-square-foot contemporary house, two other single-family houses, apartments, a 30-stall horse barn, indoor arena, cattle-working pens, large shops and 250 acres for growing coastal hay for cattle.
The Fortune Bend and Dark Valley acreage could be broken up for sale. Prices there have been reduced from $6,500 per acre to $5,000 per acre for the entire 4,416-acre property or for just the Fortune Bend area. The remote Dark Valley portion of the land, running along the north Brazos River, has dropped from $5,750 per acre to $4,500 if it is sold separately.
Fortune Bend, a 2,303-acre tract, gets its name from the dramatic teardrop-shaped curve of the southern Brazos River that affords almost 9 miles of prime river frontage to the property. A rustic lodge and horse barn are among the improvements.
The Dark Valley area is a rugged and natural 2,112-acre landscape that is farther north along the Brazos with riverfront that includes a natural swimming hole.
“She loved the Dark Valley Creek area,” Coalson said of Walton. “She loves all of the Brazos River and the out-of-doors.”
At one point, he said, Walton wanted to donate the Fortune Bend land to the State of Texas for a park, but the deal fell through.
Why the selloff?
The focus of the famously private Walton has shifted from horses to fine art. She has dedicated her time and resources to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, that is dedicated to her late mother, Helen Walton.
“Now her passion is in art,” Coalson said. “Her statement to us was she didn’t have the time to enjoy the ranches like she used to.”
Her horses were sold last September at auction on Rocking W Ranch. The event brought out onlookers and horse fanciers to witness the sale of some 100 top-notch cutting horses.
One of those buyers was Bobby Patton, the Paschal High School grad who is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He purchased 11 of Walton’s top-ranked horses for $1.8 million for his new Aledo ranch, the Rocking P Ranch, formerly the Marvine Ranch. He also hired Walton’s top hands to help him build a topflight cutting horse business of his own.
The working relationship between the Coalsons and Walton is a warm one, Coalson said.
“We became great friends,” he said. “I think the world of her, and I think she thinks the world of us.”
Though dealing with one of the richest people in the world would be intimidating for many, Coalson said that has never bothered him.
“It was a good meeting,” he said of the first time he and Walton talked business. “She knew what she wanted, she wanted land that was beautiful and rugged, and she was very particular, just a prudent buyer.”
The Coalsons have no doubt that Walton’s land will attract buyers who will keep its culture and heritage intact.
“Land [as an investment] is unique for this reason: People can put a third of their wealth into real estate and it’s something that they can touch and enjoy now, with their families,” Coalson said.