By: Tim Molloy, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The Hearst Corp. has extended its deadline for a conservation group to come up with its share of $95 million to preserve vast stretches of ranch land surrounding Hearst Castle, a company attorney said Wednesday.
The deal calls for the San Francisco-based American Land Conservancy to give Hearst $80 million and for the state to grant $15 million in tax credits. The nonprofit conservancy is relying on multiple sources to fund its end of the agreement, including state money and donations from foundations and individuals.
The agreement expired in February, but Hearst agreed to extend it until May.
“At the end of May … we could extend it again at the same price, we could extend it again at a higher price, or we could terminate it,” Hearst attorney Roger Lyon said.
Lyon also said an independent appraiser has determined the land is worth “more than double” the company’s asking price. Hearst is willing to donate the difference, he said.
Stretches of beach, grassland and forest surround the castle, the never-completed former dream home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, which draws tourists from around the world. The castle opened as a state park in 1958, but the surrounding ranch remained in the hands of the Hearst family.
Under the agreement, the company would turn over 1.75 square miles of coastal land to the state and agree not to develop almost all the remaining ranch land east of California Highway 1, which would be maintained by the conservancy.
Hearst could continue ranching and would retain the right to build a 100-unit resort and some homes on the site about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.