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Vol 5 No. 20- February 2, 2005

Sandpiper Mobile Resort co-op thrives

By Louise Bolger

When John Ringling built the Sandpiper Mobile Park in 1934 for his circus employees and performers, he probably had no idea that Anna Maria Island would turn into one of Florida’s most expensive coastal Mecca’s – or did he?

In April it will be two years that the residents of this unique Bradenton Beach community achieved what was at first considered unachievable, they raised the money to purchase almost ten acres of prime waterfront property. The organizers created a co-op and offered 120 shares for sale between $62,500 and $77,500. Enough of these shares were sold to raise the five million dollars required to proceed with financing on the almost ten million dollar sale. Shares are still available to purchase from the Sandpiper association, as are homes and shares that can be purchased from individual homeowners in the park. The Sandpiper is a 55 plus community with about 30 percent full time residents.

The current available homes with shares range in price from $68,000 to $199,000. Last year, in addition to many sales of shares, there was a $195,000 sale of a home and share.

Monthly maintenance is $325, and both seasonal and annual rentals are available. Financing for mobile homes can be difficult to find, and the majority of buyers pay cash.

Since the conversion, homeowners have undertaken extensive renovations, and modular prefab homes are starting to appear. The common areas of the park have been upgraded and now include a clubhouse with kitchen facilities, library, shuffleboard courts and laundry facilities. In addition, previous boat docks located along the 600 feet of waterfront on the bay, are about to be rebuilt and sold as shares to residents. But what may be the biggest perk of all is a beach right of way directly across Gulf Drive. There is an on-site office and web-site for more information.

John Ringling was a visionary and so were the residents of the Sandpiper, they not only wanted to save their homes, but also saw the potential of this fine piece of property. Thank God for the visionaries of the world, without them we would all be living in high rises.

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