COEUR d'ALENE - It's going to be interesting to see what prime real estate on Lake Coeur d'Alene goes for in the digital currency known as Bitcoin.
Hayden resident Alan Golub is selling a package of 660 contiguous acres overlooking Moscow Bay that includes the site of the once proposed and controversial Chateau de Loire development. He is seeking a virtual pile of bitcoins.
Golub was a real estate agent involved in the sale of approximately 570 acres to Kirk-Hughes Development, which attempted to establish Chateau de Loire. That proposed development featured French-themed luxury housing and a golf course.
Las Vegas-based Kirk-Hughes contracted to buy the land, but it ultimately didn't pay the real estate commission of $941,000, sparking multiple lawsuits, Golub said. He filed a lawsuit of his own, alleging fraud.
"It was a very high-priced property and it was a high commission," he said.
Nearly a decade after Kirk-Hughes blew into town in 2004, Golub purchased 50 acres at the site for $1.4 million in a sheriff's sale late last year.
"It's actually the most spectacular part of the property," Golub said Tuesday. "It's all of the waterfront."
His land includes 1,162 feet of deepwater frontage.
He is packaging his 50 acres and the property of two neighbors to come up with the 660 acres.
He and his neighbors believe their land is worth more if sold as one massive bundle.
So what's the property worth?
"This brings me to Bitcoin," Golub said.
Golub, a technical advisor to the Kootenai Technical Education Campus and a substitute teacher in the Rathdrum school district, traveled to Miami for the North American Bitcoin Conference in late January.
In Miami, he made it known that he has some beautiful land in a beautiful place, "and I don't want U.S. dollars, I want bitcoins" for it, he said.
That said, he's committed to making sure the other two property owners he's working with get their asking price in U.S. dollars, if they don't ultimately opt for bitcoins.
He said he admires the people who have adopted bitcoin use.
"They're innovative, they're young, they're talented," he said. "Many of them are extremely wealthy."
When people at the Miami conference heard he was from Idaho, they recognized Idaho as a place where politicians regularly boast of a lightly regulated business environment, he said.
"I want to attract Bitcoin people to Idaho," he said.
He is banking on Bitcoin sticking around and hopes the sale of his property will get bitcoin use stimulated in North Idaho.
"Bitcoin fits in with the philosophy of the West," Golub said. "You have a chance to succeed and you have a chance to fail."
Ragnar Lifthrasir, who is in the process of launching a website that allows people to buy and sell real estate and vehicles with bitcoins, said Idaho isn't on a lot of people's radar right now.
"But once people learn more about Idaho, I have no doubt it could become the Bitcoin state," said Lifthrasir, of Orange County, Calif.
Idaho is attractive because of its culture of preferring limited government. Early adopters of bitcoin use are technologically savvy, entrepreneurial and libertarian-minded, he said.
"Alan can put Idaho in front of people," Lifthrasir, 36, said. "The personality of Idaho fits the personality of Bitcoin guys."
Along with his website for buying and selling property with bitcoins, Lifthrasir also has a bitcoin escrow system in place.
He sees Golub making a sale with bitcoin, and it could happen fast. The property will be listed on Lifthrasir's website, anark.re, which he said will launch in two weeks.
"He's going to attract a lot of international buyers," Lifthrasir said. "They view American real estate as a safe investment."