HARRISBURG, PA. - Got US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) to spare? If so, tiny Reduction, a one-time company town built to house workers at a long-vanished garbage-processing plant in western Pennsylvania, could be yours for the asking.
The aptly named town is home to 60 residents, down from 400 in its heyday. They live in 19 tidy brick houses, paying rent to the Stawovy family, proprietors of the unincorporated village for the past 70 years. The asking price includes a one-room schoolhouse that was long ago converted into a duplex residence.
The plant, built by American Reduction Co on a wide bend of the Youghiogheny River, shut down in 1936 after processing waste from the city of Pittsburgh since the early 20th century.
Workers would render animal carcasses, and separate metal from household waste for resale.
"This was the original recycling plant," said David Stawovy, 67, who owns Reduction with his three siblings.
In 1948, David's father, John, owned an adjoining farm and was thinking about buying one of the larger homes in Reduction for his growing family. At one time, he would have had 28 from which to choose.
"My mother and dad wanted their own place," David Stawovy said, "and the man said: 'Why don't you buy them all?'"
The senior Stawovy ended up doing just that, paying US$10,000 for the place, lock, stock and barrel. It was a decision he never regretted, or at least never admitted regretting, his son said.
"He never complained. He made a living on it," said the younger Stawovy.
All that is left of the processing plant is the foundation, Stawovy said. Once the town dump contained a treasure trove of collectible bottles, but it was wiped clean years ago.
Stawovy said his advancing age and the nursing home care his parents needed before their recent deaths led the family to put Reduction up for sale. He needs to sell so his siblings can cash out their shares of the inheritance.
"We'd like to travel," he said. "We don't need the aggravation."
Oregon town could be yours for $5.4 million
Earlier this month, another town - Tiller in Oregon, was put up for sale too. The asking price just US$3.5 million (S$5.39 million). For an extra US$350,000, you can have the old school too.
The mostly uninhabited, unincorporated town about 225 miles (362 km) south of Portland originally went up for sale in 2015, but that did not include the building that used to house the school, said Garrett Zoller, the owner of Land and Wildlife, the real estate firm selling the 250-acre (100-hectare) town.
The current deal, at a reduced price, includes six houses and an apartment, industrial and commercial lots, and a building that once housed a gas station and general store. Adding the school, on an adjacent parcel, swing sets and all, would set a buyer back about US$3.85 million.
About 250 people live in the surrounding area. But aside from the family that owns and is now selling the town, only two residents remain in Tiller itself, a former teacher who lives next to the school, and the pastor of the local church. Neither of their parcels is for sale, Zoller said in a phone interview on Monday.
The emptying out of the town came as timber harvesting declined in the region and the town's mill closed, he said.
"When the federal money started dwindling away for timber, basically the mill shut down," Zoller said. "And when the mill shut down, a lot of the loggers started having to go away."
The family that owns Tiller now, he said, accumulated the town lot by lot as other families left.
Daydreamers aside, a complete town could also be an opportunity for a developer, Zoller said, since part of the town has already been divided for a 13-acre (5-hectare) subdivision.
He said he had fielded calls from would-be buyers ranging from Chinese investors to people interested in starting medical facilities and hemp-growing operations.
AsiaOne update: Zoller had locked in a deal with a qualified buyer by March 12. Amidst a flurry of global interest, the first accepted offer came from a couple living in Ashland, about a 90-minute drive from Tiller. The new owners want to put together their ideas and will release their plan soon.