Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | March 4, 2003

What does $25 million buy?

When Dispatch Publisher Bill Barry made an offhand remark recently – that the $25 million the city is proposing to spend on a new police station would buy roughly half of the four-lane U.S. 101 widening between Morgan Hill and South San Jose – it got me thinking.

Gee, if $25 million would buy me several miles of my own personal northbound and southbound lanes on 101 – mighty tempting – what else might that tidy sum buy me?

With multimullion-dollar projects, one must deal in approximations. After all, a $1 million difference either way is just 4 percent, a mere pittance. And given the way the price of the Gilroy police station has risen – from $19.2 million to $25 million in a few months – my $25 million fantasy shopping budget may be too conservative anyway.

As has been pointed out more than once on the opinion pages of this paper, $25 million will purchase nearly three versions of the $9.2-million dollar police station Morgan Hill is planning, or nearly eight new fire stations at the $3.2 million Gilroy will spend to build the planned Sunrise facility.

Also in Gilroy’s neighbor to the north, $25 million would almost buy a new downtown community and cultural center ($15 million) and a planned southeast side of town aquatics center ($12.2 million). To be fair, I must point out that Morgan Hill is moving ahead with the aquatics center even though it is projected to run deficits of up to $276,000 per year, so the city’s cost is likely to be higher than the capital investment to build the holes in the ground to pour money into – er, pools.

In tony Los Altos Hills, you could just about purchase the immense house a couple wants to build on 17 acres. According to Sunday’s Mercury News, the Chans are planning a 26,000-plus square-foot house – the largest in Santa Clara County – on land they bought six years ago for $16 million dollars. The house itself is expected to cost $10 million dollars.

I guess money goes a bit further in humble Morgan Hill than it does in upscale Los Altos Hills.

A pink emerald mine in Madagascar is on the auction block on Ebay for roughly $21 million dollars. Once closing costs and attorney fees are factored in, I’m sure my imaginary $25 million would be gone. But think of the jewelry collection I’d have.

Maybe a better way to spend my imaginary fortune would be to invest in beachfront real estate. Since I love Hawaii, I wonder what kind of tropical islands I might be able to afford? Turns out, I could own islands scattered across the globe. According to www.tropical-islands.com (you’ve just got to love the Internet), I could buy a 400-acre island off Grenada for $10 million, and still have money left to buy the 600-acre Bonds Cay in the Bahamas’ Berry Island group for a cool $9 million.

But I still have money left in my imaginary bank account. Hmm, I think I should expand my horizons from the Caribbean. I’ve heard Greece is beautiful, and for just $1 million I can purchase a 2.5-acre paradise in the Gulf of Corinth.

I still haven’t bought $25 million worth of islands, but maybe I should leave a little play money in my imaginary bank account for incidentals and operating expenses.

Or maybe I should stop wasting time and energy on this fantasy and start instead to figure out how to afford that much more modest used Miata I’ve been wanting for years.

Just a thought.

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