ISLANDER MHP RESIDENTS SAVE PARK!
Located about 8 miles directly across Puget Sound from downtown Seattle, Bainbridge Island is a formerly rural area previously given over to dairy cattle and truck farms. With the establishment of the commuter ferry system, this pastoral area, with the Town of Winslow as its core, has gradually been converted to a ‘high-end’ suburb of Seattle and incorporated as the City of Bainbridge Island. There are now an estimated 20,000 inhabitants.
For over 40 years, Islander Mobilehome Park has been located in the heart of Winslow, about a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. The 60-site park, with site rents of $391 per month in an area where small condos now rent for $1,000, represented a large portion of the affordable housing in the Town core area. Indeed, the Town’s Master Plan incorporated the retention of Islander Park as a key portion of its affordable housing strategy.
However, many factors were working against the continued existence of the park. The elderly owner was interested in maximizing the real estate value. A few local officials felt that having a mobilehome park in the center of town was now inappropriate, given the new boutique resort character of the Town core area.
Other local affordable housing officials felt that the site would be better used as a 250-site affordable housing complex. The property itself is very attractive for other uses, being bordered by City Hall, the local performing arts center, and various newly developed town homes, light commercial and condo projects.
Washington State law was no mobile home park protection, because with one-year notice all residents could legally be forced to move their homes. There are few, if any, available home sites on the island, and virtually no funds available to relocate older mobilehomes. The residents’ equity would be lost.
Informed in early 2004 that the park was for sale as a $5,500,000 development parcel ($92,000 per site), the residents decided to fight to acquire the property and maintain it as a manufactured home park.
It was a tough fight! The forces initially arrayed against them continued to work to defeat their plan. Even residents and local citizens in favor of saving the park didn’t believe that it could be accomplished.
But, at the end of the day, the resident group (Islander Residents Association):
- Set up and funded a resident owned Washington State non-profit corporation to own the property
- Acquired the park for $4,625,000 ($92,500 per site for 50 sites) in November 2004
- Downsized the park by 10 sites, successfully relocating the 10 homes and residents
- Sold off two parcels from the original park to local developers to assist in the overall financing plan
- Worked with the City of Bainbridge Island and local citizens to provide additional funding for relocation, affordable housing preservation and low income member share purchases
PMC Financial Services is pleased to have acted as organizational consultant to the resident group and to have arranged the first mortgage financing on this project.