A plan being pushed by a Briny Breezes resident would sell the 43-acre town for $1 billion to Donald Trump as a potential site for a presidential library.
BRINY BREEZES A Palm Beach County trailer park could be the site of a future Donald J. Trump presidential library.
Thats the vision of James Arena, a real estate broker and resident of Briny Breezes, the 43-acre coastal town just south of Boynton Beach thats made up entirely of a mobile home park.
Arena, an avid Trump supporter, says he thinks he can convince the president to buy the land and turn it into a personal monument. Arena said he has the ball rolling by reaching out to his friend, rapper and Palm Beach County resident Vanilla Ice, who is close to the Trump family.
"Vanilla Ice ran it by Donald Jr.," Arena said of the presidents eldest son. "He called me back and said, Man, I think theyre really into it."
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The projected listing price to buy Briny Breezes, which is sandwiched between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway and is made up of nearly 500 property owners?
"Trump is not my favorite and I would hate to see Briny disappear, but Im a realist," said Dana Littlefield, who has lived in the town since 1955. "Ive got 10 grandchildren and were talking 10 college educations. If Briny can be sold for a billion dollars, its like a no-brainer. Thats a lot of money."
Thats significantly higher than in 2007 when a Boca Raton-based developer offered $510 million to buy the town, a deal that would have made nearly all of its residents millionaires overnight. Littlefield said he stood to make $1.3 million from the sale, which eventually fell apart.
>> RELATED: Trump showed interest in Briny Breezes land in 2007
For Briny - as it is known by residents - to be sold, it would have to be approved by property owners representing 67 percent of the towns shareholders. Thats because Briny is also a corporation run by a board of directors, with the property owners holding corporate "shares." The better the location of an individuals property, the more shares that person owns.
Arena said the towns land owners have little choice but to sell because of major infrastructural issues involving the towns seawall, fresh water pipes and sewer system that are prohibitively expensive for residents to fix.
"We have to plan for the future of Briny and, unless we have a tremendous amount of money that I dont know about, that plan needs to include selling Briny on our terms," Arena told residents during a meeting on Thursday. "If we get caught with our pants down, were going to get much less money and were going to be told what to do."
The best candidate to buy the town, Arena said, is Trump. The president and wife Melania filed paperwork in October changing their primary residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach County, specifically Mar-a-Lago.
Every president since Herbert Hoover has established a presidential library in his home state. The president or his representatives are responsible for construction costs, usually paid for by non-profit foundations.
Arena said Trump could develop the land by building a hotel, marina and restaurants along with the presidential library and make the site a major tourist attraction.
"It makes a lot of sense for him to do something like that here," Arena said.
Its not the first time Trumps name has been linked to Briny Breezes. In 2007, Trump showed interest in the land, possibly teaming with The Related Group at the time. "We may do that together," Trump said then. "Its a great job, a wonderful location."
If Trump did buy Briny Breezes, he could change the name to "Trump Town," Arena suggested.
But some Briny townies arent so sure.
During Thursdays meeting, a woman asked Arena why the town would want to sell to Trump, who she said "lies, has bankruptcies and doesnt pay people back."
"I dont think hes a particularly good risk," the woman said.
Steve French has lived in Briny for eight years and owns two properties. His fellow owners, he said, must develop a plan "before disaster happens," pointing to Hurricane Dorian, the Category 5 storm that menaced Palm Beach Countys coastline in September.
Getting $1 billion for the town, French said, is "totally legitimate."
"Look at the stock market today," said, French, whose permanent residence is in Jupiter. "Everybodys stocks are going up. Real estate is starting to pop a little bit again. Interest rates are low. This is the time for someone to grab this place. Why not Trump?"
At Thursdays meeting, Arena urged property owners to sign a petition outlining the terms of any potential sale, including the listed price, that would be codified in the towns bylaws.
Maria Santa Cruz, 60, said she didnt sign the petition. Santa Cruz said she moved into Briny Breezes 20 years ago because she wanted "a simple life and it doesnt get any more simple than here."
Santa Cruz owns two properties and controls 54 shares. If Briny was to sell for $1 billion, each share would be worth $65,000 and Santa Cruz would receive more than $3.5 million. Not bad considering shes invested around $200,000 in the two properties.
Santa Cruz said shes not averse to selling, but is taking a "show me the money" approach.
"Bring us a solid offer and we can talk about it," Santa Cruz. "Without an offer, people are not going to accept this as real."
Santa Cruz voted for Trump but said the timing of raising the president as a potential buyer "was off." Trump was impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
A neighbor of Santa Cruzs who has lived in Briny for four generations and did not want to be identified said she would not attend the meeting or sell at any price. The thought of selling to Trump, she said, was particularly distasteful.
But Littlefield, who is no fan of the presidents, said his familys future well-being and not politics would be decisive.
"As crazy as Trump Town sounds and I dont like the idea, on the other hand I do like the idea," Littlefield said. "Its a wild thought but something we should think about."
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