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Barn-raising real estate.

An old drive-in theater in The Dalles is what rancher Paul Schanno and his wife Dixie bought. Twelve acres of theater property. They didn't buy it just for the nostalgia, nor for the thrill of battling with city hall. But that's where they were stuck until Paul enrolled in a business management class through Columbia Gorge Community College.

The Schannos were attempting to build the first residential subdivision in The Dalles in the past 12 years. They split the acreage into 29 lo ts, and named it East Knoll Estates.

In 1990, their first year of business, the Schannos sold three lots for a total of about $150,000. The next year, they sold a house for $150,000, and another lot for $50,000.

Schanno says the process of downzoning the property from general commercial to residential took two years. Then the city wanted sidewalks installed.

"It was one fight after another," says Schanno. And for all the fighting, the Schannos weren't landing any offers on their river and mountain view lots.

"The development dragged out for so long, the momentum dropped," explains Rolf Anderson, an instructor at the Small Business Development Center on the community college campus.

Anderson told Schanno he needed to get a house built in the subdivision, and he recommended getting the community involved. Schanno called subcontractors one by one and asked if they were interested in contributing to the construction of a "spec" home.

"I got everyone together at a breakfast and said if they didn't like the idea to say so now," Schanno explains. The room remained quiet.

Seventeen subcontractors built the home in less than three months. No one got any money until the house sold.

"Everyone did their best work and put in more than they originally said they would," says Schanno. The house went up like an old-fashioned barn-raising.

The open house was like a gallery exhibit of various construction talents. The house sold within five days, and the contractors were paid their bidding price.

The second home is now under construction, with a steady stream of people touring through daily.

A big share of Schanno's target market is Portland. Anderson expects to see more people doing business up and down the Columbia Gorge.

Bob Cole, director of the SBDC, was impressed by the cooperation involved in the Schannos project.

"For communities promoting growth, it makes sense for a large number of people to share the burden," Cole says.

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Title Annotation:Small Business Spotlight; The Dalles community sells East Knoll Estates
Author:Navarra, Janet
Publication:Oregon Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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