Ghost Town Vibes: Vacant Minnesota Air Force Base Needs a Brave Buyer With $800K – News

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A former Air Force base on 101 acres in Finland, MN, needs a buyer with a clear vision and lots of money—bonus points for someone who isn’t easily spooked!
Situated at the top of Lookout Mountain, with spectacular views of Lake Superior, Finland Air Force Base has 43 deserted homes in various stages of disrepair. While it might not be widely known, the base was used as a lookout for potential threats coming into the United States from Canada.
Listed for $800,000, the eerily empty property operated as a self-sustaining air base for nearly 30 years until it closed in 1980. It has since sold several times.
The price seems modest, until you consider the work that would be necessary to get the place up and running again. So, can an investor transform the former site of a Cold War-era Air Force radar station into something special?
Listing agent Carly Gosar, of Messina & Associates Real Estate, explains there were initially very specific plans for the property. 
“It was going to be turned into a project called Finlandia, with luxury homes and single-family rentals,” she says. “It is privately owned now and was last purchased at an auction.”
She adds that the community has been outspoken about their hopes for the property, which is “housing for people who will use the school systems and contribute to the community.”
Over the years, contamination has placed the emptied-out land under scrutiny.
“The former owners put a ton of work into the septic system and put in several test wells,” Gosar notes. “At that time, they found contaminants in the water. Around the top of the mountain, where some of the buildings were torn down by the past owner, under those former buildings is where they were not able to remove the contaminants. You can’t put a well on top of the mountain because of the contaminants.”
The collection of 43 single-family residences includes a variety of three- and four-bedroom homes scattered throughout the property. Each has a single-stall garage.
Over the years, the vacant site has had some challenges, and the structures range from shambles to moderate disrepair.
“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of vandalism with a few of the homes that have been spray-painted and had broken windows,” Gosar says, adding that some of the homes “have new roofs, while others have peeling paint. Some of the homes need to be addressed, as they may have lead paint. Others need a new roof, while some have had water damage and need a full remodel. There are a lot of possibilities that could come with that land.”
While the buildings come with issues that need attention, the surroundings offer plentiful outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobile trails.
“There are lots of wooded trails that lead to the top of the mountain,” Gosar notes. “It has a lot of neat history, and it is a beautiful property. There is even an old baseball diamond on-site. It’s kind of like owning your own town on top of a mountain.”
Despite needing considerable work, the homes have good bones, Gosar says.
“The structures are still standing strong,” she adds. “There are about five homes that need a few windows and other minimal work. You would need to get the well and septic up and running, but you could start small and get started with these homes. It’s definitely going to be a long-term investment for someone.”
Gosar believes there are many potential uses for the property—a resort or rental development, among other possibilities.
“By adding slabs, you could even bring in RV parking and have a camp-type situation,” she suggests. “It could be used as short-term rentals for people looking to come up north. I think the next buyer will be someone with a real vision, because it is going to be a lot of work and a lot of money. But with 100 acres, there is also a lot of value there.”
Kellie Speed has more written for a variety of publications, including Haute Living, U.S. Veterans magazine, DiverseAbility, and JustLuxe. She can be reached at


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