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Million Dollar Trailer Park

Hip Billionaires Are Drawn to Montauk Shores 

Amobile home park in the tony Hamptons? You betcha. Sometimes called “the million-dollar trailer park,” the 20-acre community has got arguably the best views on the entire East End. And access to Ditch Plain beach, a surfing mecca. Which is why several hip billionaires have pitched tent, I mean, trailer there.

Actually, Montauk Shores Condominium did begin life as a campsite in the 1940s. Campers slept under the stars or even in cabooses rescued from the Long Island Rail Road. In 1976, a group of 152 regulars – many of them firemen whose heirs are still there today – banded together to buy the property after the original owners filed for bankruptcy. They divided the land into 199 parcels, each plot priced at $10,000. And one of the original settlers, Alpha Doughan, sold his neighbors trailers at $5,000 a pop.

Today there are 152 individually owned sites and 47 leased sites. What that means is that you can own the land on which your trailer sits (more expensive) and pay relatively low quarterly maintenance fees (circa $400) or buy the trailer and lease the land from management and pay roughly $1,450 in monthly payments. The two-dozen trailers that line the bluff overlooking the ocean, known as the front row, garner the highest prices.

In the past five years, Corcoran’s Peter Moore, who laughs at his dubious distinction as “the trailer park king,” has sold three oceanfront properties: to a hedgefunder, former Goldman Sachs partner and ex-CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi. The latter wrapped his dilapidated trailer (he wasn’t able to move it out) in aluminum and plunked on a teak deck. “He put a million bucks into it.” Then he flipped it to a guy who had sold his company, Vitaminwater, to the Coca-Cola Company for a king’s ransom.

Of course, these are not the owners’ primary or even secondary residences. “They’re used as surf shacks,” says Moore, who works with his wife, Lois. “They don’t even stay over, it’s their cabana.” One owner, who also has a $20 million house in Sagaponack, stays at his unit when his wife entertains. “I refer to it as silly money. Those in the front row pay way over the historic value.” This is partly due to the fact that those units rarely come to market.

The Moores currently have a listing for a doublewide trailer, three back from the ocean side. “It’s a ‘pull-away,’” says Moore, which is another way of saying a ‘tear down.’ The musty 700-sf unit with 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths is priced at $639,000 and Moore expects it to get close to the asking price. Another, unit 433 near the community pool, has been updated to the standards of any Hamptons house, replete with high-end fixtures, marble countertops and barn-board accents. The 4-bedroom, 1.5-bath trailer is listed with Lisa Grenci of Douglas Elliman for $625,000. Greg Burns of Compass has the listing on a 500-sf unit asking $675,000.

Well-known Hamptons caterer Janet O’Brien, who also surfs, purchased her oceanfront unit 11 years ago. “It was just one of those moments,” she says. No sooner had the thought entered her mind that a Montauk trailer would be a nice home away from her main Sag Harbor residence, when a friend took her straight to the park. She had to act quickly because “my particular trailer would have gone fast.” Indeed, it boasts unimpeded views to the break. In retrospect, it is one of the best decisions she has ever made.