Friday, October 06, 2006

Dixon's Milk Farm property goes up for sale

Milk Farm property goes up for sale

Site of former well-known restaurant carries asking price of $18 million.

By Amanda Janis/Business Editor

The Milk Farm's infamous cow-jumping-over-the-moon sign is now a for-sale sign.

Draped across the portion of the 100-foot sign that advertised the Dixon landmark's restaurant is a vinyl banner proclaiming: "Development Opportunities Available."

The opportunities come with an $18 million price tag, according to listing agent Richard Evans of Southern Marin's RE/MAX. So far, he said, there's been a great deal of interest in redeveloping the 60-acre site, which boasts a half-mile of freeway frontage along Interstate 80 and was recently annexed by the city of Dixon.

Approximately 30 acres of the site are zoned "highway commercial," with potential for up to 520,000 square feet of development. Additionally, a 5-acre lake or pond is zoned "public service," and 25 acres are zoned for agricultural uses, including equestrian centers, a nine-hole golf course, heliport, schools, religious institutions or hospitals.

"We're getting interest in the property from as far away as San Diego, New York City and Chicago," Evans said in an e-mail to The Reporter. "We'll be looking at all offers on Oct. 20th."

The "we" refers to Milk Farm Associates, which has owned the property since 1997, and is led by Davis-based businessman and inventor Paul Moller, best known for his research on vertical take-off aircraft, or flying cars.

For nearly a decade, his vision for the former Milk Farm site has included a facility for "Skycar" research and a related aviation museum, as well as a specialty retail element, and an alternative health center. According to Moller's previously publicized plans, all these components - and perhaps even a hotel - likely would border a 5-acre lake, which would in turn be surrounded by preserved agricultural land.

A final environmental impact report for the concept was approved in September last year.

Moller's plans haven't been abandoned, he told The Reporter. He still wants to build an aviation museum and holistic health center, and perhaps other "unique" things.

In essence, he explained, the Milk Farm has "always really been for sale, because my intention was never to do the entire development myself."

The intent, he said, is "to be part of a very nice commercial complex which I will certainly guide as part of it, and have part of myself."

"We're looking for a developer to come in and make the whole thing very exciting," said RE/MAX's Evans in a telephone interview. In a subsequent e-mail, Evans said, "It would be great to have the fascinating Moller Skycar Museum be part of the eventual development, but that decision is still 'up in the air,' so to speak."

Upon reviewing various offers on Oct. 20, Milk Farm Associates will determine "whether we're going to co-develop, sell all of it or buy some of it back" once infrastructure is in place, Moller said. "It doesn't mean we're going to take the offers."

The Milk Farm's origins date to 1919, when it was originally Karl Hess' ranch near Currey Road. Hess relocated it to its current location in 1939, and during the Depression, he offered visitors all-you-can-drink milk for 10 cents, inexpensive chicken dinners and pony rides.

The ranch earned its nickname when it was featured the following year in The Saturday Evening Post, and through the years, its restaurant and gas station gained popularity among travelers and local teenagers alike. Dairy operations ceased after World War II, and the Milk Farm closed completely in the 1980s.

Amanda Janis can be reached at

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