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Pending Denver Meadows Sale/Closure roils media, creating ripples and reactions from residents and owner

September 29th, 2016 Comments off

denvermeadowsmobilehomervparkgabrielchristusaurorasentinel-postedmanufacturedhousingindustrydailybusinessnewsmhpronewsAn already tumultuous relationship between Denver Meadows Mobile Home and RV Park owner Shawn Lustigman and the community’s residents has only gotten worse in recent weeks.

In two years, I’ll be homeless,” resident Petra Bennett told The Aurora Sentinel.I need two tractor trailers to move it at $10,000; I don’t have $10,000 in two years, nor can I save $10,000 in two years.”

Close to 100 residents will be forced to move from the community when Lustigman closes it in June 2018, reports The Sentinel. Lustigman’s plan is sell the property to a developer.

The land is in a valuable location, due to its proximity to the Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colfax Station of the Regional Transportation District’s upcoming light rail.

The decision is unpopular among Denver Meadow residents, despite the two-year heads up.

Many like Bennett have paid thousands of dollars in principle and interest on their homes, plus of course their site fees.  Local media relays her assertion that she doesn’t see how she will be able to pay off her loan, much less afford to move their home from Lustigman’s community.

Seeking the Various Perspectives…

MHProNews reached out and spoke to Lustigman’s manager, who referred us to Lustigman himself.  He was polite, but in the wake of a lot of unfavorable local media coverage, the owner was not willing to add to statements he had previously made.

Numerous, Largely Negative Local Media Reports

Lustigman’s decision to close and sell Denver Meadows and protests by residents are not the first reported bone of contention between him and the community’s residents.

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Photo credit, Westword.

In May, residents were concerned that they were going to have to move when a proposed zoning change was before the Aurora City Council. The re-zoning was geared towards transit-oriented development.  It would have eliminated Denver Meadows to make room for properties like high-rise apartments, commercial, mixed-use residential, retail or hotels.

Residents and Lustigman alike were confident that the re-zoning was going to happen.

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The move is definitely going to happen,” Bennett told The Denver Post in May. “They want to go ahead and rebuild this area to better serve the veteran’s hospital and the light rail, so us vacating the land is definitely going to happen; they made it clear.”

I don’t know why it wouldn’t go through; it would be good for the city,” Lustigman told The Post. Speaking about his own property, the owner said – “It’s a rundown park, it isn’t very attractive and I think the city will welcome a change in zoning so that it can be redeveloped.”

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The map reflects the potential value of a property like this, near businesses, hospital and extensive highway frontage.

Lustigman seemed willing to help out his residents if they were forced to move. “We’re going to try to with some of the people there to try to help them out,” he told The Denver Post.They have been my tenants and I’m going to try to help them.”

Sometime between then and now, the local reports suggest that his sentiment seems to have changed.

It may have had to do with the small victory Denver Meadows received in July when the City Council postponed the vote to rezone the property. Fox 31 Denver reported council members decided to put the vote on hold until Lustigman could secure a developer, and a way for residents to be compensated for their moving costs.

In August, Denver Meadows residents received a letter from the property managers, stating that their lot fees, would be raised another $60 a month, from the current $780 to $840.

While increases happen for a variety of reasons, a manufactured housing professional who spoke to MHProNews off-the-record about Denver Meadows issue thought that this was a shoddy business practice, given the plan to close the property.

Residents say that the property gets worse day by day, pointing to raccoons and feral cats roaming between or under the homes. Plus, residents have stated that their vehicles are towed randomly from the property.

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A raccoon takes a plate of food under a home on Wednesday Sept. 07, 2016 at the Denver Meadows mobile home park. However, it should be noted that a manufactured home’s foundation enclosures – a.k.a. “skirting” – is typically the duty of the home owner.  Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel.

 

Jim Ayotte, Executive Director of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA), told MHProNews – A community owner shouldn’t be compelled to close a community without regard for homeowners.

Ayotte explained some of the various stress points that are often at play, including local governments that have limited ability in their budgets to provide affordable housing.  Yet, local governments often try to impose measures that force property owners to act contrary to their property rights.

This is unfair to the private sector and quite frankly, should be unconstitutional,” Ayotte said.

As MH Association Directors, we support a property owner’s rights to buy, sell and make a profit at any time,” Jay Hamilton, of the George Manufactured Housing Association told MHProNews. “What we do hope for is that the MH Community owner does it ethically, which is usually the case.”

The community owner should help minimize the impact by working with local government and social service agencies to identify alternative housing options,” Ayotte said, adding that he has seen a number of examples of community closures done where owners, residents and local officials worked successfully together.  Ayotte’s full comments about the matter are linked here.

Since the initial rash of reporting, Lustigman has largely remained silent.  When asked what he planned to do with the property when it closed, he simply replied, “It’s my property.” ##

(Editor’s Notes – for every community like this one, there are numerous others that have a different experience, please see the story, linked here. For related MH professional commentary, click here.

On a similar owners rights vs. residents rights battle – featured on Fox News complete with their video – is linked here.)

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Joe Dyton, for the Daily Business News, MHProNews.

(Image credits are as shown above.)

Submitted by Joe Dyton to the Daily Business News, MHProNews.