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Just outside Taos, N.M., a roughly 312-acre ranch was built with survival in mind.
Accessed by a long driveway in the wilderness bordering the Carson National Forest, the reinforced-concrete home has its own water supply, a year’s worth of propane, a solar energy system, multiple backup generators and even a herd of yak. The asking price: $30 million.
The property is the most expensive residential property for sale in New Mexico, according to Claudia Mardel of Keller Williams, who is listing the property with her colleague Pam Sawyer. The owner, retired real-estate developer and seismic-construction expert Howard Mintz, spent more than two decades designing and building the home, but said he’s not some survivalist “psycho.”
“I’m not building an underground bunker with bunk beds and eating cans of beans and oatmeal for the rest of my life,” said Brooklyn-born Mr. Mintz, 72. However, he said he sees value in being able to live completely off the grid at a time of political and economic upheaval.
“If all hell breaks loose, you can come here and you’ll be OK,” he said.
The property is home to about 85 yak, which Mr. Mintz described as “smarter than cows, way less dangerous than buffalo.” The yak are for sale along with the property, which also includes a guesthouse, gate house, and a large barn and horse facility with an arena and a hay shed.
Dominique Vorillon (2)
For decades, Mr. Mintz was a custom home builder in the suburbs of New York. Later, he ran a seismic construction company in San Francisco, building or retrofitting residential and commercial properties to withstand earthquakes. He moved to New Mexico from San Francisco in 1996 following a divorce, he said, and spent years assembling land on a forested hilltop and designing the house. He took classes at the nearby Earthship Community, an off-the-grid community where residents live in “radically sustainable” passive solar houses, but ultimately decided to build the property in his own style.
Needing somewhere to live while the property was under construction, Mr. Mintz initially lived in a trailer on the site, but said it was so cold in winter he could see his breath, even with his three large dogs tucked in bed beside him. He eventually built and moved into a small guesthouse on the property. Since retiring from his construction businesses in 2019, he has been focused on finishing the main house, he said, which is still only about 85% complete.
Howard Mintz (4)
Spanning around 4,000 square feet with roughly 3,000 square feet of heated outdoor terraces, the house has walls of poured architectural concrete as well as bamboo ceilings, Brazilian soapstone floors and steel beams wrapped in renewable cedar. An infinity koi pond around the edge of the property acts as a kind of moat.
Mr. Mintz said the property is energy and water independent, thanks to a recently constructed well that is more than a quarter of a mile deep. Propane tanks can hold up to 4,000 gallons of fuel for the main house and guesthouse, which could last more than a year, he said.
Mr. Mintz said he spent tens of millions of dollars building the house, including roughly $1 million on tools and equipment, since the appropriate tools weren’t available in the area. Work on the property was slow because Mr. Mintz was constantly leaving the state for work and because there was a revolving door of contractors, he said.
“I fired over 80 people,” he said, noting that he eventually found some talented local workers, some of whom have now been with him for more than 20 years. “This is New Mexico and things are pretty loose.”
He wound up flying contractors in from Europe to install the zinc roof cladding, he said.
Mr. Mintz said he now plans to leave New Mexico, and will sell the property without ever moving into the main house. It might seem odd, he said, but he’s “grown out of the idea of being there.” He said he has dreams of living on the ocean and going fishing. For him, it was more about the journey of developing the property than actually living there, he said.
According to Zillow, the state’s second-most expensive residential property is Zorro Ranch near Santa Fe, once owned by the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein’s estate recently reduced the asking price of that property to $21.5 million from $27.5 million, according to listing agent Neil Lyon of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Write to Katherine Clarke at [email protected]
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