Wealthy people can just buy a town, Mark Cuban edition

A very small community in Texas is now owned by Mark Cuban:

Google Maps, Mustang, TX, on December 3, 2021

The billionaire just bought the entire town of Mustang, Texas — a blip on the map off I-45, with a population of 21 people, according to the latest census data.

The reason, Cuban told the Dallas Morning News: A buddy needed to sell it…

The town was founded in the early 1970s, when it was known mostly as a local watering hole in an otherwise dry Navarro County, according to the paper. These days, there’s little more than a trailer park and a strip club, Wispers Cabaret, which is reportedly in disrepair. On Friday, Google Maps showed the name of the club had been edited to “Mark Cubaret.”…

It’s not clear what Cuban paid for the town, but for someone with a net worth of nearly $6 billion, it was almost certainly a steal. The town was reportedly put up for sale in 2017 for $4 million, but Turner said it was overpriced, even when they slashed the listing price in half.

The angle taken in this reporting is whimsical: a billionaire purchases a town with few plans except to help a friend. The point is made clearly by the opening comparison of Cuban to Johnny Rose, the father in the comedy series Schitt’s Creek.

There are other ways to approach such a story:

  1. How often do wealthy people make such purchases?
  2. When you buy a town, what happens to the people who live there? Is this like buying homes or apartments or is there something different involved when purchasing a community?
  3. What could these 77 acres become given the existing land use and location?

The buying and developing of large land parcels is big business and has consequences for many people. Where does the story go from here?

(This is not the first time I have written about the selling or buying of towns in the United States. See here.)

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