Developer Who Destroyed Pyramid in Peru Goes Free

Back in July we reported on a developer in Peru who bulldozed a 4,000 year old pyramid. Situated on the site of El Paraíso, a 4,000 year-old settlement pre-Inca near Lima, it’s one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. It’s also prime real estate.

That’s why developers decided to bulldoze one of the pyramids to make way for some new housing. The prehistoric monument was completely leveled, and they would have taken down three more pyramids if an archaeologist and some watchmen didn’t intervene.

Two private companies, Compañía y Promotora Provelanz E.I.R.L and Alisol S.A.C Ambas, claim to own the land, but the Ministry of Culture says it’s owned by the government. Both sides have put up signs at the site claiming ownership. After the bulldozing incident, the government doubled security.

Now Past Horizons reports that two months later, no charges have been brought against the companies or any individuals identified as being part of the work crew. It appears that the two companies have won this round.

This video shows what the pyramid used to look like, and the barren destruction that’s been left in the name of development.

Want To Buy An Irish Castle? Now’s Your Chance!

If you’re in the market for a new home, why not think big and buy a castle? There are several for sale in Ireland and now that middle income has been defined as up to $250,000, many are within the means of the middle class.

Take Cloghan castle, shown above. It’s in Banagher, County Offaly, and comes with 157 acres of woodland and riverside. The original castle was built in 1336, making it one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland. Although it was attacked and burned in 1595, it continued to be used as a home. Its three floors have six bedrooms, four bathrooms, an office, store room, laundry and a big dining hall.

It even counts as a tax shelter. Because it’s a historic building, if you open it to the public on occasion you get certain tax exemptions, and any maintenance and improvement costs count as a tax write-off.

So how much will this put you back? You’ll have to contact Premier Properties Ireland to find out. If the quote is too high, wait for a while. Beagh Castle was originally priced at €695,000 ($906,000) but has been reduced to €299,000 ($390,000). It only comes with 17 acres, but it’s picturesquely located on a promontory above the River Shannon in Ballysteen, County Limerick. Nobody is sure when the first castle was built on this spot, but it was rebuilt by a knight in 1260. An old tradition says a secret tunnel connects this castle to the local church half a mile away. The tunnel has never been found, but if you buy the castle you’ll have plenty of time to look.

An even cheaper option is Ballymaquiff Castle near Labane, Ardrahan, County Galway. It’s going for €145,000 ($189,000). It’s a fixer-upper but features some fine medieval architectural features such as large vaulted rooms, pointed doorways, a medieval fireplace and a spiral staircase.

You might also want to comparison shop on their castles page, where they have several more medieval fortresses for sale. There’s even a bargain basement castle for only €75,000 ($97,850). That’s less than six month’s wages for a middle-class household!

[All photos courtesy Premier Properties Ireland]


New Mexican town created by hedge fund causes layoffs?!

Hedge fund DE Shaw laid off 150 employees a couple of weeks ago, and the reason is being traced back to a town the company tried to create in New Mexico. Trying to add to the map of a state, it seems, doesn’t pay.

DE Shaw and real estate developer SunCal Cos carved out 55,000 acres (twice the size of Boston, according to Business Insider) and sought to turn it into a new town. The financial crisis pretty much put a stop to the $250 million endeavor, but when the music stopped, the payments didn’t. Now it looks like DE Shaw has a $150 million tab.

The question that remains, according to Business Insider’s Courtney Comstock, is pretty simple:

DE Shaw is a quant fund that trades – we thought – exclusively computer-driven strategies. So what the heck were they doing trying to create a residential, industrial, and commercial community out in New Mexico?

Hopefully, nobody printed updated maps!

[photo by leiris202 via Flickr]

Awful housing market puts vacation residences in reach

Looking for a vacation home? Well, the time is right! With home seizures hitting a record high, you don’t need to be an infomercial star to realize that prices are headed in your direction. Places that were once wholly unattainable may now almost be in reach, and second homes at nasty places you’d never want to visit (especially regularly enough to have a vacation home there) are moving for pocket lint change.

Last month, 95, 364 homes were seized by banks – a record-setting number (since 2005, when we first started keeping score). Bad loans and unemployment are making the situation worse. So, the time has come for people with deep pockets to take advantage of the less fortunate, a familiar enough refrain throughout human existence. When you close on your new vacation home, though, don’t bring cake for the vanquished: someone will probably get the wrong idea and make a big “thing” of it.

[photo by Casey Serin via Flickr]

Watergate to go on the block

Monument Realty hopes the action on the Watergate Hotel Tuesday will rival what made it famous. The storied property, a monument to our eventual freedom from President Richard Nixon, is set to be auctioned. The real estate developer that bought it five years ago – hoping to restore it – received a foreclosure notice and had to find a buyer. Originally, Monument had its figurative fingers crossed for some relief form lender PB Capital, but it’s pretty clear that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t listening.

Before we rush to lament the forced sale of the most famous hotel in our nation’s capital, keep in mind that it hasn’t been open since Monument bought it in 2004. The company still owes $40 million on the hotel. Nothing’s happening. And, while we can blame today’s economic climate for the failure of this endeavor to launch, the reality is that Monument pissed away several months of prosperity.

Stupidity – rather than economics – is the driver behind this auction.