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Date of Issue: February 27, 2008

Sales ahead for Cortez marina

Cortez Cove Marina apparently will remain the historic fishing village's own.

Karen Bell, managing partner in the current ownership, said a closing is tentatively planned for May in a deal whereby investors will buy out her partners and Bell retain 20 to 25 percent interest.

She declined to reveal the prospective new partners pending the sale, but they are understood to have long and strong interests in Cortez and Anna Maria Island.

Other Cortezians have expressed concern that the marina might slip into hands that could be less interested in the village as an historic place, with less attention to its commercial fishing traditions. If this deal goes through, it should allay some of those worries, Bell noted.

Bell, Judy Breuggeman and Peter and Eva Thurell bought the 34-slip marina and associated boatworks in 2004. Breuggeman and the Thurells late last year decided to withdraw from the enterprise, Bell said, and she has been negotiating since then with various prospective buyers. The asking price was $3 million, but she declined to discuss figures on the pending sale.

She arranged for herself and her partners to buy the marina three years ago from Piero Rivolta, Italian entrepreneur, developer and boatbuilder. He had bought what was then known as the Sigma Fish House in 1999 and dredged the boat basin, rebuilt boat slips and tried to develop it as a marina with townhouses and cottages. So many Cortezians objected to that concept so strongly that he sold the property to Bell and her associates.

They expanded it into a repair and maintenance yard for boats large and small, up to 70 feet long and 60 tons, particularly for fishing craft such as those operated by Bell's family-owned A.P. Bell Fish Co., just down the waterfront from the marina.

Along the way Cortez Cove became a movie set when scenes for "Out of Time," starring Denzel Washington, were filmed there.