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Floridas Briny Breezes has emerged as an unlikely venue for a Trump library and residents are on board with the plan

An unlikely venue has emerged as a possible site for Donald Trumps presidential library: a Florida trailer park where retirees spend their time on shuffleboard courts and playing cards in a clubhouse overlooking the sea.

The old Florida town of Briny Breezes occupies 43 acres of prime waterfront land sandwiched between the Atlantic and the intracoastal waterway just 12 miles south of the presidents palatial Mar-a-Lago resort.

Incorporated as a town with its own mayor and post office in 1963, the caravan park with a seasonal population of fewer than 650 would set Trump back more than $1bn, according to residents who discussed selling up at a public meeting last month.

Trump has previously declared an interest in acquiring the site for development, and James Arena, a real-estate broker and Briny Breezes resident behind the idea, says it would be a perfect addition to Trumps already diverse Florida property portfolio that includes hotels, golf resorts and a mysterious quarter-acre patch of mosquito-infested scrubland.

The idea of a presidential township in this area makes a lot of sense, said Arena, who has lived in Briny Breezes with his wife and two children for almost a decade, and insists he would not be a broker in any deal.

This is one of the most prestigious pieces of property anyone could own in the world. Its on a barrier island so is a very safe and secure location. If you were to have a library and museum that you could only access by water taxi it would revitalize the entire waterway in a manner I dont think anybody could imagine. It would open new restaurants and real estate would boom.

President Trump is certainly someone who has the wherewithal to take on a project like this, hes familiar with the place. Id love to shake the presidents hand and discuss it with him directly.

With a general election to fight later this year, choosing a venue for his own library a museum-cum-memorial traditionally set up by presidents after they leave office might not be an immediate priority for Trump. Neither the White House nor the Trump Organization returned the Guardians request for comment. It might just be wishful thinking from the residents.

But it is no secret Trump was sniffing around the site more than a decade ago, when shareholding residents first sought to sell up for development and make themselves instant millionaires. He told the Palm Beach Post in 2007 that Briny, as it is known fondly to residents, was a wonderful location and that he was looking to team up with the developer who wanted to buy the land for $510m. Ultimately that deal fell through.

Residents of Briny Breezes take part in a class in the towns art center in January 2006. Photograph: Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Palm Beach county commissioners, meanwhile, are also believed to be keen to secure Trumps presidential library, although the spiraling security costs of his frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago have caused friction in the past.

At Briny Breezes, Arena said that crumbling infrastructure made it imperative that a deal was struck sooner than later.

Our sea walls were built in 1958, theyre the original, he said. We had a licensed engineer tell us in 2017 that the sea walls needed to be replaced, the land needed grading and raising 8ft. We have 9,000 linear feet of sea wall and it would be an extremely expensive project. We have nowhere near what it would cost to do it.

The low-lying land is also vulnerable to hurricanes and sea level rise caused by the climate crisis, and Arena said the towns ageing fresh water and sewer pipes also needed attention.

The property needs to be redeveloped and we need to start considering our options. Thats just a fact of life, he said.

The nearly 500 property owners are also shareholders of the Briny Breezes corporation, making their land far more valuable than the caravans that sit upon it. A two-thirds majority of shareholders is required to sell, and some residents would see returns of close to $4m if the site went for $1bn.

Any new owner would also have naming rights, such as Trump Town, Arena suggested.

I wouldnt care if it was Trump Town or Joe Schmo Town, said Dana Littlefield, whose family has owned property in Briny Breezes since 1955. Id vote to sell. As much as I love it being in the family, the return for our shares would bring an incredible amount of money. We have 10 grandchildren and college education costs a lot.

If a hurricane wiped out Briny were talking trouble. The whole place would have to be rebuilt to code, and it would be cost prohibitive. There are those who wouldnt sell in a million years [but] with a couple of million dollars in your pocket from selling a trailer the size of a postage stamp, Im pretty sure you could find somewhere else to live on the water.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/10/trump-presidential-library-florida-briny-breezes