“A World Away” yet only 2.5 miles from Downtown Boulder
BOULDER – Hidden behind the Diagonal Highway and Independence Road, exists a one-of-a-kind, pastoral farm – the idyllic land preserving a strong link to Boulder’s rich history. The 80 acres at McKenzie Farm is the last piece of a large farm once owned by one of Boulder’s original settlers. It’s been passed down through Neil D. McKenzie’s family during the last century, and now it’s on the market for $12.5 million, with the sellers motivated as they pass the property along to its next stewards. The McKenzie Farm’s location and size, combined with its storied history, makes it quite an unprecedented listing.
Over the years, the University of Colorado’s mascots – the Ralphie buffaloes – have roamed about on the land as the McKenzie’s were supporters of the university. And a young hippie once canvassed the organic farm for a couple of seasons, plucking rosehip and mullein for his now-famed Celestial Seasonings herbal teas.
But perhaps as unique and awe-inspiring as the history encapsulated on the farm is it’s location. The farm at 5163 Independence Road is surrounded by open space, leaving panoramic views of Long’s Peak and the famed Flatirons unspoiled. Yet, still, the serene retreat complete with the Four Mile Canyon Creek winding through it is just 2.5 miles from Boulder’s vibrant downtown area, the Pearl Street Mall.
“You get two lifestyles in one,” says Luxury Realtor Lynne Langdon, one of the property’s brokers. The property affords you privacy, she explains, because it’s set so far back on the Diagonal that you don’t even see or hear cars passing by. Plus, there’s the charm of original outbuildings and structures that dot the property. Still, you can be in downtown Boulder’s shops, restaurants or businesses in a matter of minutes.
A ‘palette’ for your dream property
This historic farm, which boasts 50 acres of organic farmland, is waiting for its next chapter to be written, perhaps as a yoga retreat offering a peaceful oasis and getaway, Langdon imagines. Or maybe the farm, which has grown sweet corn and tomatoes over the years, will garner interest from organic chefs. Yet another possibility? It could draw interest from those who are in the business of natural supplements or the hemp industry, Langdon says.
Langdon, who grew up in Boulder herself, has an affinity for the property, especially because the greenbelts surrounding it and that preserve picturesque views of Colorado’s treasured mountains.
“I don’t just want to take any listing,” she says. “I want to know that I can sell it. I really have to wake up every day and see how great the property is; and this one truly is special.”
Langdon and her partner on the listing, Marcia Glow, CU Alumna, work for Hilton and Hyland, the No. 1 luxury real estate firm in Beverly Hills that’s run by Rick Hilton and Jeff Hyland. The firm just sold the Playboy Mansion for $100 million. Langdon, who has her Realtor license in California and Colorado, is under the Kennedy Brokerage that’s run by Jack Kennedy in Denver.
Protections don’t allow for the McKenzie Farm to be developed into, say, a subdivision or multi-family homes. But the possibilities for the property are endless, Langdon says.
Langdon and Glow describe the property as a “beautiful palette to create your dream property.”
About 50 acres of the property is organic farmland. But the 80-acre property also features a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house as well as a private trout pond, a nursery with native plants and trees, a greenhouse, a barn and corral, plus several outbuildings. Boulder Open Space borders the property, granting access to hiking trails.
An ‘only-in-Boulder’ backstory
The way Neil A. McKenzie sees it, his great grandfather Neil D. McKenzie was “an original tech star” in this tech-centric college town. His grandfather came to the Boulder area in the late 1800s and opened up a silver mine, but also became a local philanthropist and vice president at a bank.
Neil D. McKenzie purchased the farm on the edge of Boulder, bringing to it technological advances, including running water.
“It was one of the most modern and technological farms that existed in the 1890s,” McKenzie says.
The original site was once 480 acres. Over the years, a good deal of the land, though, was sold to Boulder’s Open Space to preserve the green belt around the city.
The property is a treasure to Neil A. McKenzie. While he was at CU during the 70s, he started a roadside farm selling sweet corn he harvested from the farm, a gig that he found more enjoyable than working in a restaurant. He even employed some of his friends to help run the stand.
The farm, he says, has always been a peaceful escape.
“You can be in Boulder, and then all of a sudden you drive through the gate and you’re somewhere else,” McKenzie says. “It’s just awesome.”
McKenzie recalls driving up to the farm one day and seeing a hippie-looking guy with a big sack over his shoulder. He stopped and asked him what he was doing. The guy, Mo Siegel, explained that McKenzie’s father had given him permission to pick herbs from the farm for his “little tea company” which has now, of course, turned into the big-name Celestial Seasonings.
McKenzie dials up another memory, recalling a time he was trying to get back to the farm, but the highway was shut down. The Ralphies had escaped, and the mischievous mascots were on the loose causing a ruckus on the Diagonal Highway, chasing sheriff’s deputies.
There’s also the time McKenzie was in awe after spotting a golden eagle on the property. And another time he was impressed when the trout in the trout pond measured at 18 inches long.
Plus, the property is a playground for the outdoors-types. You can cross country ski around the perimeter after Boulder is blessed with a fresh blanket of snow. Or, you can run along the trails that border the farm, he says.
“What I like best about the farm is it does your soul good,” McKenzie says. “It puts you in a good place.”
By Brittany Anas, At Home. Photos by Timothy Seibert