The (New) City by the Sea: The Story of Seabrook, Washington
A few hours outside Seattle, a bootstrapped entrepreneur built an idyllic beach town from scratch, offering lessons for real estate operators & investors alike
For all the attention paid to Silicon Valley’s attempts at building new cities and places—whether California Forever’s efforts to build a new city in Solano County or Culdesac’s car-light development in Tempe—the very real examples of new towns and cities being built in the United States today are often ignored. And at least a few of those new places are pretty nice. Today’s letter will focus on perhaps the most idyllic and successful of them all: the beach town of Seabrook, Washington.
Seabrook is the brainchild of Casey and Laura Roloff, entrepreneurs and homebuilders who began building the town in the early 2000s. Seabrook is low-key in a distinctly Pacific Northwest kind of way: it has no institutional backers, no prominent voices on social media, and no major PR campaigns. Seabrook was originally started with only $3.5 million—the Roloffs’ savings plus money from friends and family—and has taken minimal outside investment in the 20 years since. “We took the slow and steady approach,” says Roloff.
Today’s letter will explore the remarkable story of Seabrook, including:
The town’s history and influences;
Seabrook’s design and evolution over the past 20 years;
How Seabrook was entitled and financed;
Lessons real estate operators can take from Seabrook;
Seabrook in the context of other city-building ventures.