FOLLOWUP: Falconridge Farm hasn’t galloped into the sunset – yet

(WSB photo from September report – covered riding arena at Falconridge Farm)

By Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Dr. Jean Nokes, her beloved mare Cielo, and Luna, the three-legged cat who used to ride Cielo in her heyday, are still holding the fort down at Falconridge Farm, the 4.2 acre oasis in Highland Park.

As West Seattle Blog first reported in early September, Nokes and her husband Milt Ghivizzani put the horse farm up for sale because Nokes, an experienced equestrian, is no longer riding. We checked back on its status after the topic came up at last week’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting.

There has been an avalanche of interest, from developers and also parties who want to save it from that fate, and keep it as an equestrian farm. Nokes said she has been in constant negotiation with multiple parties, but so far no ink has been put to paper.

As reported here a month ago, a Vashon Island group, Tasha Therapeutic Riding, started a crowdfunding effort to raise $6,600,000 to buy the farm, but was unsuccessful. However, Julia Montagnet, who started the crowd-funding effort, turned it over to a professional organization called Altruist Partners, led by Robert Harrahill. A horse person, Harrahill said he got involved because he helps organizations raise impact capital for projects that benefit the greater good. He said he’s the go-between for Montagnet, who would lease the farm for Tasha Therapeutic Riding, from Friends of Falconridge, yet another organization, which is actually raising the money.

“Altruist has not been officially retained by Friends of Falconridge, and we’ve worked pro-bono to assist their efforts,” Harrahill said. “There are several of us who have horses and so it is a pleasure to help both groups (Tasha and Falconridge).”

Harrahill said they will use impact capital markets to provide the funding. They have commitments of $3.2 million, and potentially another $600,000 on the condition that 100 percent of the money to buy the farm is raised. Friends of Falconridge confirmed to WSB, “We have set our internal goal before we can place an offer to Dr. Jean. … We need to hit our goal and have an offer to purchase before these funders will be on board.”

Meanwhile, Nokes has proceeded with taking down 13 alders on the east side of the property to ensure the safety of homes on 5th Avenue downhill of the farm. She said her neighbors have been very kind and very involved in the process.

“I had no idea this would generate the amount of emotion and interest,” Nokes said. Our original story was followed up by citywide media outlets, and a video production company, Rainmakers, produced a 28-minute video called “Horse Farm in the City.” In the video, Nokes talks about many of the stories from the farm, including the story of Othello, Ghivizzani’s pet chicken, and the tragic tale of an accident involving a horse named Bo, who was being transported to California when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The driver was killed; the horse survived, although injured. Here’s the video:

(As you’ll see if you watch the video, it ends with a short interview with the real-estate agent marketing the farm.)

Whatever the fate of Falconridge Farm, Nokes said it probably won’t be spring until there is a closing. She and Ghivizzani will be heading south to California for the winter, with Cielo in tow.

10 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Falconridge Farm hasn't galloped into the sunset - yet"

  • Rick October 30, 2017 (1:04 pm)

    Gotta know more about Luna the one legged cat. There’s GOT to be a story there.

  • Linda Ball October 30, 2017 (2:12 pm)

    My bad!! Luna has three-legs, missing one! Gads.

    • WSB October 30, 2017 (2:24 pm)

      And I should have caught that. Fixing. There was a bit more about Luna in our first story.

  • Rick October 30, 2017 (2:40 pm)

    A three leg I’ve seen but a one leg,not so much. 

  • Mark October 30, 2017 (4:46 pm)

    Three legs provide good stability

  • quiz October 31, 2017 (9:01 am)

    I’ve got to believe there would be demand for an equestrian center in WS where people can take riding lessons. What a jewel for WS Peninsula. 

  • PangolinPie October 31, 2017 (9:51 am)

    I would absolutely take riding lessons there!

  • SJ2 October 31, 2017 (10:34 am)

    I rode here and kept horses here for several years. It is an amazing property and in the right hands could definitely flourish as an equestrian center. Dr. Jean has done an amazing job with the property and has provided excellent care to all the horses. I would love to see it continue as a horse property, I know that is unlikely to happen though.

  • Mark October 31, 2017 (1:11 pm)

    It would be nice, but NIMBY’S could get riled up regarding adding traffic to SW Kenyon St and whatever else.  But an Equestian use likely generates less traffic than a residential development.

    Keeping the equestrian use would be my preferred option!

  • Cherie Townsend November 17, 2017 (3:26 pm)

    Long before her distinguished medical and dressage activities, I was a music student of Jean’s. My Dad did odd jobs around her parents’ home to pay for my lessons. She is an incredible lady and I wish her well in her future endeavors – – Cherie Miller Townsend

Sorry, comment time is over.