The owner received a more favorable offer; the inhabitants are mobilizing to submit a second proposal
A $5.46 million bid to buy Westside Mobile Home Park in Durango by residents and their partner, Elevation Community Land Trust, was rejected on Friday.
Residents of Westside Mobile Home Park gathered at the park on Friday and sought new sources of funding as they continue to work with Elevation Community Land Trust to purchase the property and secure their homes.
“The last thing we want to do is abandon our homes,” said Alejandra Chavez, resident of Westside Mobile Home Park and president of the community co-op.
In a letter to Elevation Community Land Trust CEO Stefka Fanchi, obtained by The Herald of DurangoBenjamin Goldberg, an associate lawyer at Bove Law Offices, rejected the community land trust’s offer citing another offer received by IQ Mobile Home Parks.
“Due to material differences between the offers, particularly funding and timing, Westside cannot accept the Residents’ offer,” Goldberg wrote.
He identified five differences between another offer received by IQ Mobile Home Parks and the offer from Elevation Community Land Trust. The other offer is cash with an earlier closing date, no financing contingency, no valuation contingency and 15 days less for due diligence, according to the letter.
According to residents and Benjamin Waddell, an associate professor of sociology at Fort Lewis College who worked closely with Westside Mobile Home Park residents in their attempt to purchase the property, Harmony Communities, a California-based mobile home real estate company , submitted the other offer.
Harmony Communities did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. Neither Goldberg nor IQ Mobile Home Parks could be reached for comment.
Elevation Community Land Trust, which uses public and private funds to acquire residential properties and increase access to affordable homeownership, submitted an offer on behalf of residents of Westside Mobile Home Park on March 15. The offer was based on private and government funding, according to Goldberg’s letter. .
Fanchi said the organization felt its initial offer was strong.
“We thought we had a really competitive offer to start with,” she said. “But I understand there are some things that come with financing that, from a seller’s perspective, are not ideal.”
Under Colorado law, mobile park owners have the right to offer to buy the park if the owner intends to sell or change the land use. However, they must do so within 90 days.
IQ Mobile Home Parks informed residents that the company intended to sell the property on December 20, leaving Elevation Community Land Trust with a March 20 deadline to submit an offer.
However, in Goldberg’s letter to Elevation Community Land Trust, he noted that Bove’s vendors and law firms were extending the deadline an additional week to March 27.
Elevation Community Land Trust plans to follow up with a second offer that will address concerns raised by Goldberg.
“Our goal is to present a new offer to the seller that substantially matches if not exceeds all of the terms provided,” Fanchi said. “We will only be able to do this with even greater support from the broader community, not just local, but even statewide.”
Elevation Community Land Trust has had conversations with financial and community organizations and leaders locally and across Colorado to create a more competitive offering.
“We spoke to foundations, community development financial institutions, state, county, city,” Fanchi said. “All of these people are lining up with us to create an offer that is cash (with) short lead times, and that allows us to take control of the site so we can start working with Westside residents to make improvements. to their their lives and to give them some control over their own destiny.
Since residents of Westside Mobile Home Park were first notified by IQ Mobile Home Parks of the company’s intention to sell, the community has rallied together to keep their homes and buy the park.
On Friday afternoon, more than 30 residents gathered at Westside Mobile Home Park with signs and balloons to rally and kick off fundraising efforts.
Chavez said residents hope to raise $500,000 from the community of Durango to support their purchase of the park. The community is launching a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds, Chavez said.
“We work with good companies, so we’re wondering if our bosses or someone can donate some money so we can help Elevation raise all the money,” she said.
At Friday’s rally, Chavez said many residents could be displaced if they were unable to purchase the Westside Mobile Home Park property. She said many would not be able to afford the rent increase Harmony Communities would likely institute.
Chavez said Westside Mobile Home Park residents are concerned about their children and want to support their community.
“We want to keep our families together,” she said. “There are about 72 children in this area just in this mobile home park. If we are displaced, where will we go? Where are these children going to go?
During the protest, she acknowledged that $500,000 was a lot to ask, but she said residents believed the wider Durango community could rally and support them.
“I know it’s a lot, but it’s not impossible,” she said.
Residents of Westside Mobile Home Park and Elevation Community Land Trust received a boost Tuesday when La Plata County Commissioners unanimously approved a $1.5 million loan to help purchase the property.
Commissioners applauded efforts to prevent the displacement of Westside Mobile Home Park residents, many of whom are Hispanic and in a community in which 90% of residents live at 50% or less of the area’s median income.
“There is a human aspect to it. I don’t just want to talk about this in economic terms. These are people and these are families,” Commissioner Marsha Porter-Norton said at the special business meeting.
La Plata County spokesman Ted Holteen said the county was not involved in ongoing negotiations between IQ Mobile Home Parks and Elevation Community Land Trust. The $1.5 million loan was the extent the county could provide financial support for the purchase, he said.
As Elevation Community Land Trust pivots, Fanchi said the organization is confident it can produce a second competitive bid by March 27.
“I’m very confident that we’re going to have wonderful partners on our side to make this a reality,” Fanchi said.
As Chavez spoke in front of a camera on Friday, she became emotional.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We are all fighting together. We are with Westside.