Escape to Old Florida

When is a Trailer Worth $300,000? When It Comes With a View and an Iconic Way of Life

This is not your grandfather’s mobile home.

By Robert Plunket November 29, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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It’s a rare trailer park that can make a visitor wish he lived there. Too often they live up to their unhappy image of flimsy housing, densely packed together, with retired people just getting by on their Social Security.

But some parks—or “mobile home communities” as they prefer to be known—will make you rethink what this economical way of living can offer. Longboat Key has a park with killer Gulf views set in the middle of million-dollar homes and condos. And even better is Cortez Park in the historic district of the quaint old fishing village, where we found what just might be the most expensive trailer in Southwest Florida, priced at $299,000.

This is not your grandfather’s trailer. It’s a two-bedroom, two-bath 1,152-square-foot model with a rambling floor plan that feels more like a house than a mobile home. The main living area is expansive, with an open plan that include a living/dining area, a modern updated kitchen, and a glass-sided lanai offering a view.

And what a view. The bay is a few feet away, across a road that’s used only by residents of the park. Anna Maria Island lies just across the water. Sea birds (pelicans mostly) fly by at eye level, and boats of all sizes—some for fishing, some just for pleasure—sail by all day long. Turn your head to the right and you’ll see the Cortez Bridge.

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The park dates back to the 1940s and has a pleasant beachy feeling, with shell roads and well-kept homes, most smaller than this model. It’s age-restricted—55-plus—and homeowner fees are $483 a month. There are even some docks, which rent for $1,000 per year. The one-of a-kind location and all the maritime activity give it a bohemian Key West atmosphere—a throwback to Florida in the old days.

“The residents are a mixture of snowbirds and full-timers,” says Gloria Weir, who manages the park and also lives there. She says it’s a convivial place, with social activities all year long. There’s even a restaurant, Tide Tables, a classic indoor/outdoor waterfront place, with excellent food. It’s on land owned by the park but leased out to a concessionaire.

The Cortez Trailer Park almost seems too good to be true. Developers have been coveting the prime location for years. Fortunately, the residents recently bought the place as a co-op, thus ensuring that this happy piece of Florida’s past and present will go on providing a unique, affordable lifestyle for years to come.

12507 Cortez Road, #64A, $299,000. For more information call Kathy Valente of Michael Saunders & Co. at (941) 685-6767.

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