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Date of Issue: October 20, 2005

Cortez Trailer Park goes on market

Cortez Trailer Park, a fixture in the historic fishing village since 1959, is going on the market with current occupants getting first shot at it.

Harry "Butch" Howey, second-generation owner of the park, said he is entertaining offers from outside buyers to establish a value for which the park's mobile home owners may buy it, exercising their right of first refusal.

Some of those owners are still "up north" so no action has been taken on a possible purchase from their end, Howey said, but they are returning one by one. "I don't really have a handle on the unit price," he said, "but mobile home prices have quadrupled in the past few years. One sold here the other day for $100,000."

The starting price for the park is $14.750 million, he said.

The property is about five acres and has 620 feet or so of waterfront and a marina, he noted. It occupies a corner along the bay south from the mainland end of the Cortez Bridge. It has 79 permanent mobile homes and eight recreation vehicle sites, which works out to a price-per unit for the park of about $175,000. Howey also owns the docks there and some small buildings on the water.

He arrived at the park from New Jersey at age 7 and has lived there ever since. His father, Harry Sr., had the property from arrival in 1959 until he sold it to his son in 1988. Both father and son and their families live there.

"I've worked here full time since I got out of high school," said Howey the younger. "Thirty-six years. I've owned it for 18 years, and it's been a good business."

He's not sure what he will do after the park's sale, but "Manatee County is changing like crazy and it's time to move on, do something else. I've got a house in northeast Georgia that I may use more often."

He won't go back into the mobile home park business, though, he said. 

He will try to keep any negotiations "as civil as I can," he said, "but you never know - in business you can go from hero to zero in 30 seconds."