Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

UPDATE: Appeals Court Ruling in MHC Case

May 12th, 2017 Comments off

In a follow up to a story the Daily Business News originally covered in December, a Minnesota State Appeals Court ruled in favor of the new owners of the Lowry Grove Mobile Home Park in St. Anthony, in an ongoing dispute over the site’s future.

The story began back in September, when a group of Lowry Grove residents sued to block the sale of the property, testing a state law that said residents had 45 days to match an offer made on the property.

Homeowners partnered with Aeon Management, a Minneapolis based non-profit management company, to make a matching $6 million offer on June 10, the day of the deadline.

The offer was rejected; the residents sued, and Judge Joseph R. Klein ruled against the residents, writing in part that the statute “…does not grant them an unfettered ability to purchase the park [sic]. They were not deprived on that right because it was never, in fact, granted to them.

According to MPR News, while the appeals court rejected the claim, it did say said the community residents may be entitled to more money beyond the cost of their homes.

Residents did receive news in December that the deadline for closing the community has been pushed from March 15 to June 30, 2017, to allow children in the community to finish out the school year.


The ruling is a win that provides finality for all parties,” said Traci Tomas, Vice President of The Village, LLC, the new owners of the community.

Interestingly, Alan Arthur, CEO of Aeon, also sees good in the ruling.

The court said residents may be entitled to more compensation,” said Arthur.

Alan Arthur. Credit: MPR News.

Residents will use the compensation process to keep pushing for a purchase and a Minnesota Supreme Court appeal is a possibility. We have options that we will be weighing with the residents and with our attorneys.”

The original story on the Lowry Grove community is linked here.

For more on residents working to purchase their communities, including the Dover Point Cooperative in New Hampshire coming together to buy the Polly Ann Park community, click here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)


RC Williams, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

The Promise of Housing – Manufactured Homes Take Center Stage

April 11th, 2017 Comments off

A refurbished Family Promise home in Grand Rapids, MI. Credit: ABC Newspapers.

In Anoka County, Minnesota, just north of Minneapolis, one organization has seen the light, combining all the benefits of manufactured housing to combat homelessness.

According to ABC Newspapers, non-profit organization Family Promise will receive a $10,000 grant to kick-start a new effort to combat homelessness in Anoka County.

The “Home for Keeps” program allows families who are homeless the opportunity to transition to homeownership, as manufactured homes are refurbished and presented to them.

We are reaching out to local park [sic] owners to see if they have any manufactured homes sitting vacant on their land. We hope that park [sic] owners will sell such homes at low cost or donate them to Family Promise,” said David Frei, executive director of Family Promise.

Frei says that while no community owners have made homes available yet, the opportunity in Anoka County is significant, as it has almost 5000 homesites, more than any other county in the state.

We have a lot of potential for it to grow,” said Frei. “Manufactured housing is getting a rebound in our area.”

Volunteers from Family Promise will fix up the homes for families so they can move in, and eventually receive the title and claim ownership.

It’s a very inexpensive way for people to achieve stability,” said Frei.


The inside of a refurbished Family Promise home. Credit: ABC Newspapers.

Other Family Promise affiliates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Orlando, Florida have launched similar programs and seen tremendous success.

Renting space in a manufactured home park [sic] typically costs families much less than renting an apartment would,” Cheryl Schuch, executive director of Family Promise of Grand Rapids.

On average, monthly rent is $450, and the average two-bedroom apartment in Grand Rapids goes for $1,100 monthly.”

Family Promise has moved 91 families into 84 manufactured homes to date.

The only way for them to exit poverty is for them to build assets,” said Schuch.

Owning a manufactured home is certainly a step in the right direction.”

The Daily Business NewsMHProNews and MHLivingNews have covered the case for manufactured housing as a viable solution to hope for the American Dream of home ownership at a reasonable price extensively, including Bloomberg making a statement to the same effect.

For more on manufactured housing being the solution that’s hiding in plain sight, see MHProNews and MHLivingNews Publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach’s insight into the opportunity linked here. ##


(Image credits are as shown above.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Community Gets Reprieve In Closing Case

December 28th, 2016 Comments off


In a story that the Daily Business News originally covered in September, residents at the Lowry Grove Mobile Home Park in St. Anthony, Minnesota have received news that the deadline for closing the community has been pushed from March 15 to June 30, 2017, the end of the school year.

Per MPR News, word came late in the afternoon on December 22nd, when acquirer The Village LLC announced that it had moved the closure date.

The company purchased the community in June with plans to redevelop it into a mix of apartment buildings and townhouses, which would require approximately 90 households to relocate.

A group of Lowry Grove residents sued in September to block the sale of the property, testing a state law that residents had 45 days to match an offer made on the property. Homeowners partnered with Aeon Management, a Minneapolis based non-profit management company, to make a matching $6 million offer on June 10, the day of the deadline.

The offer was rejected; the residents sued, and Judge Joseph R. Klein ruled against the residents, writing in part that the statute “…does not grant them an unfettered ability to purchase the park [sic]. They were not deprived on that right because it was never, in fact, granted to them.

According to MPR News, residents also filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Fair Housing Act, contesting the sale.

Even though the HUD investigation continues, many residents have still opted to leave the community, with about one-third moving or making plans to move.

For those who remain, and have children in the St. Anthony-New Brighton School District, the extended deadline brings some welcome relief.

During our ongoing conversations with the school district about options to ensure school age children would be able to complete the school year without changing schools, we learned it would be even more beneficial to allow them to remain in their homes through the end of the school year,” said Traci Tomas, vice president of The Village.

We offered to delay the park [sic] closure three months as a way of easing the impact the closure will have on the residents and their children. I am proud that open lines of communication led to this agreement with the residents.” ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

County Zoning Administrator Aaron Lacher Opting Out “Granny Pod” Law

September 30th, 2016 Comments off

Aaron Lacher is the Planning and Zoning administrator in Houston County, MN. Photo credits: Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus.

Houston County, MN commissioners chose to opt out of a recently enacted state law at their meeting on September 20th.

Minnesota statute 394.307 (signed into law on May 12) “defines and regulates temporary family health care dwellings on residential property,” Houston County zoning administrator Aaron Lacher told the commissioners.

According to the Spring Grove Herald, many area communities have been opting out of this law.

Throughout the state, these portable, prefabricated housing units are typically a cross between a tiny home and a park model or RV.  They are commonly referred to as “Granny Pods.” They provide small but functional living space that can be navigated by someone using a wheelchair or walker.


Nextdoor Home. Credit: Kimm Anderson, St Cloud Times

There’s no public hearing required for these, and this [measure] became effective on Sept. 1. However, the law does permit counties and cities to opt out, which is what I recommend,” Lacher said.

According to what Mark Brunner, Executive Director of the Minnesota Manufactured Housing Association (MMHA) told MHProNews, while the bill passed the Legislature in record time, and was signed by the governor; the “opt out” ordinance language in the bill was a “must have” provision for the League of Minnesota Cities to not more aggressively oppose an otherwise popular bill.

As I understand it, based on some research that the Minnesota Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators did, is that there is a company based in the Metro [Minneapolis/St. Paul] area that lobbied strongly to get this law into the books,” Lacher told the Herald. “The law essentially describes the product that they manufacture, and allows it to be placed without the normal zoning checks that cities and counties have.”

In presenting his resolution to the commissioners, Lacher stated that the new law “erodes local control of the permitting process, limits a county’s ability to foster and guide development, and places undue burden on county staff to forgo standard permitting practices.”

His resolution also cites an existing zoning ordinance, which provides for the temporary installation of factory-built homes for family members based on medical hardship. 

We need to opt out,” commissioner Teresa Walter said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to do so.


Inside of a Nextdoor home. Credit: Kimm Anderson, St. Cloud Times

According to The St. Could Times, St. Cloud, Sherburne, Stearns and Benton counties have also opted out.

According to the counties, the challenge with the new law is around already existing county zoning rules and restrictions in the new law that may not be practical.

We think ours [laws] make more sense for our purposes,” said Chelle Benson, Stearns County Environmental Services Director.

Restrictions in the new law include:

  • Units cannot be larger than 300 square feet
  • Units cannot be attached to a permanent foundation and must connect to the main house’s electric and water utilities.
  • Units must have siding similar to a standard house and meet building codes.
  • Only one person can live in the unit, and the caregiver must show proof that the person requires assistance with daily living.

That’s not very realistic, especially if you’re doing health care, said Benson. Some of these people need longer times.


Mark Brunner, MMHA.

Several municipalities rushed to pass the “opt out” ordinance prior to September 1, especially in the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The Legislature adopted a MMHA amendment to the bill, specifically including IBC labeled modular units within the new statutory definition of a Temporary Healthcare Dwelling, or Granny Pod,” said Brunner.

Prior to the MMHA amendment being adopted, IBC labeled modular units had been excluded for use as a temporary healthcare dwelling, something previously permitted under the MN State Building Code and Zoning Statutes,” Brunner stated. The bill amended MN Zoning Statutes making Granny Pods a permitted use, versus including them within the MN State Building Code.“##

(Editor’s Note: MHProNews writer Matthew Silver covered “Granny Pods” as a solution to what the St. Could Times is calling the “Silver Tsunami” of aging baby boomers.)

(Image Credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.





Battle Over Community Owner’s Rights vs. Resident’s Rights highlighted in St. Anthony case

September 28th, 2016 Comments off

lowrygrovecreditstartribunestanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnewsResidents of the Lowry Grove community in the Minneapolis, MN suburb of St. Anthony lost their bid to block the sale of the property, according to a ruling by a Hennepin County Judge.

We continue working together to save Lowry Grove. We will organize more action,” said Antonia Alvarez, president of the Lowry Grove Resident Association, per the Star Tribune’s report. I understand they are very rich, but we have community support.”

The ruling is a blow to the residents who sued to keep the park open. A state law drafted in 1991 was designed to give manufactured home owners the right of first refusal to buy land in the event it was put up for sale.

paulbradleycredtimhpronewsstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnewsPaul Bradley, president of ROC USA posed the following question to MHProNews. “How can we promote homeownership and sell new homes on leased land and at the same time close communities?”

Judge Joseph R. Klein wrote, in part, that the statute “…does not grant them an unfettered ability to purchase the park. They were not deprived on that right because it was never, in fact, granted to them.judgejosephkleincreditmncourtsgovstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnews1


This is believed to be the first major legal test of the law.

The owners of Lowry Grove, LLC notified residents in April that they intended to sell the property to The Village LLC, a subsidiary of Wayzata, MN based Continental Property Group, for $6 million. The Village announced that they would close the park in a year and redevelop the 15 acres of land.

Fearing the loss of access to good schools and safe streets, the residents prepared to respond.

Under state law, residents had 45 days to match the offer. Homeowners partnered with Aeon Management, a Minneapolis based non-profit management company, to make a matching $6 million offer on June 10, the day of the deadline.


Lowry Grove residents protesting.

The offer was rejected.

On June 13, the sale to The Village became final. Aeon Management and Lowry Grove residents sued, arguing that the law, and their civil rights, had been violated.



The Lowry Grove RV park and manufactured home community is on a prime parcel of real estate, as this Google earth image reflects.

When the statue was passed, said Judge Klein, the intent was clear.

Should a park be sold contrary to [the law] the only remedy the residents in the park have is to sue under a violation of this law for something besides ownership of the land, said Judge Klein.

Explaining further, Klein wrote that lawmakers were balancing competing priorities when passing the statute, giving manufactured homeowners a tool to protect their homes while not overtly interfering with park owner’s ability to sell their property.”

tomastracicreditiremmnstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnews1We are pleased with, but not surprised by, Judge Klein’s ruling,” said The Village Vice President Traci Tomas in a written statement. “From the beginning, we’ve realized that this is a difficult situation for the residents. That has never been something we’ve taken lightly.”

Tomas has also denied violating the state statute, countering that residents didn’t meet all the criteria. She also shared where the Village’s focus is.

Right now, we are focused on those who have expressed a desire to complete their move before winter sets in,” Tomas said. “We are working with the City of St. Anthony so residents can submit applications to the Minnesota Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund for financial assistance that will help with their relocation.”

jimayottecreditmhpronewsusersrcdesktoppaulbradleycredtimhpronewsstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnewsJim Ayotte, Executive Director of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA), provided commentary on a similar situation with the Denver Meadows community in Aurora, CO in his column on MHProNews. “It costs money to create affordable housing, which local governments don’t have, and it is more politically expedient to put the screws to a business owner and get favorable press for protecting a group of economically challenged homeowners.

This is unfair to the private sector and, quite frankly, should be unconstitutional,” says Ayotte. “What that said, it is the responsibility of all parties to do the right thing.”alanarthuraeoncreditmprnewsstanthonycasehighlightsbattleovercommunityownersrightsvsresidentsrights-dailybusinessnews1

Aeon Management CEO Alan Arthur commented, “I am sad that our world seems to value bottom line financial returns more than it does people.” Aeon is also exploring other legal options for Lowry Grove residents.

The struggle over community owner’s property rights vs. land-lease community resident rights continues, and the Daily Business News plans to track this story to its conclusion. ##

(Editor’s Note: Equity LifeStyle Communities Chairman Sam Zell’s view on property owners rights is published exclusively in a report on MHProNews, linked here.

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC WIlliams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News, MHProNews.

MH Community Residents Going to Court to Resist Relocation

June 17th, 2016 Comments off

Minneapolis__lowry_grove__mhvillage__creditUpdating a story MHProNews last posted May 4, 2016 regarding the repurposing of Lowry Grove manufactured home community (MHC) by a new owner in St. Anthony, Minn., the mostly Hispanic residents, since learning in April the MHC was being sold for $6 million, vowed to block the sale, which would mean the loss of their community.

Owner Phil Johnson gave the residents 45 days to raise the $6 million and purchase the community under the terms and conditions in the original offer from Continental Property Group (CPG), according to theuptake.

The deal between Johnson and CPG closed June 11, but the right of first refusal, which has never been applied to an MHC in Minnesota, was ignored by Johnson, says Jack Cann, an attorney with the Housing Justice Center of Minnesota. He says the residents have a good shot at winning the opportunity to buy the community through the courts.

The residents made a valid offer with the assistance of Aeon, a non-profit developer and owner of affordable housing in Minnesota, but Johnson and Aeon have some sticking points about signatures on the petition, the closing date, and how the offer was presented.

Alan Arthur, CEO and President of Aeon, said, “Now it’s in the hands of the attorneys and the court of law. We don’t know what that means exactly. We think we’re on the side of right and we’re going to continue to try and figure that out on behalf of the residents.”

Residents had a meeting in mid-May with Traci Thomas, the president of CPG, who told them “I don’t want to give any false hope that the park is not going to be closed.” The development will include an apartment complex.

Johnson had told the residents the 70 year-old infrastructure needs to be replaced, and that the community does not meet modern day standards.

Regardless, residents are determined to resist attempts to move them out. Said resident Luann Zappa, “We’re going to fight to save the park. I’m not leaving my home, we’re not leaving our community. They’re going to have to fight to take me down. I’ll stay in my house until the very end and so will many of the other residents here.” ##

(Photo credit: MHVillage-Lowry Grove MHC in St. Anthony, MN)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Equity Lifestyle teams up with agency in Twin Cities Suburb for a youth recreation center

November 25th, 2014 Comments off

star-tribune=credit-FamilyMeans-program-coordinator-Jaime-Staska-kids-nonprofit-Lake-Elmo-center-TuesdayFamilies in the Lake Elmo, Minnesota manufactured home community of Cimarron Park are getting a much desired center for youth. The area is mainly occupied by low-income families which have struggled for housing.

The Twin Cities StarTribune tells MHProNews that the building space for community activities which includes a day care center and for their youth after school programs is a step ahead, taken by the Stillwater agency.

Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) has agreed to allow FamilyMeans the Recreation Center to operate rent-free in the basement of the building that is also the location for their manufactured home land lease community’s management office.

ELS will be charging the organization $1 per year in a 30-year lease for the new building’s land. The youth program is growing rapidly, so it appreciates this affordability.

Tom Yuska, who founded the agency’s youth programs 20 years ago said: “FamilyMeans will now be able to expand on the programs they provide and develop new programs that will better the lives of the kids in Cimarron Park, their families, and the greater community as well.”

The new center broke ground in September at an estimated cost of $1.2 million, and is set to be completed in January of 2015. Kate Yunke, property manager for the ELS community, said: “We’re thrilled to partner with FamilyMeans to bring programs that will benefit the community’s kids both academically and socially.”

Jaime Staska, Children’s Program Coordinator, has been with the project from the beginning. He’s watched the growth and maturity of the young people, some of whom go on to college, have jobs and start careers.

At the groundbreaking ceremony one teen who spoke Staska was very proud he said: “That’s a really neat thing to do, to see someone like that … really grow into her personality, “It’s been quite a privilege to be able to see them grow and develop. Development is the goal, after all.”

As regular Daily Business News readers know, Chicago based ELS is the largest operator of land lease communities in North America and ELS is one of the stock’s tracked in our daily MH industry focused market report. ##

(Photo credit: StarTribune)

joseine-josie-thompson-writer-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com50x50-Article submitted by Josie Thompson to – Daily Business News – MHProNews.

Realtors urged to educate Consumers about Online Valuation models

November 11th, 2014 Comments off


Realtors ® are being urged to educate buyers about online valuation methods. DigitalJournal  says panelists at the 2014 Realtors ® Conference & Expo discussed the challenges of helping buyers and sellers understand the difference between actual appraisals and automated valuation models (AVMs), found on popular Zillow or elsewhere.

John Anderson with Twin Oaks Realty Inc., in Crystal, Minnesota, said “AVMs are designed to help consumers become aware of current market conditions and availability of property and are not meant to be an appraisal. Realtors® have a responsibility to educate consumers about the differences in valuation models and available data. The lines can be blurred between everything that is out there.”

Melanie McLane, Jackson Real Estate Group, Jersey Shore, PA appraiser, said, “An appraisal is a snapshot of a certain period of time that depends on several economic factors. Values change and it’s up to Realtors® to work with their clients to manage their expectations and serve in their best interest.”

In February 2012, NAR adopted the Responsible Valuation Policy, which serves as their policy guide in this arena.

Regular Daily Business News/MHProNews readers know that nline valuation is likely to continue to evolve, and could be part of the future that the recently released CBRE/Genesis study suggested will see a large percentage of purchases being made online. ##

(Cartoon credit: Braddock posted on Brokerology)

Willmar gives Preliminary nod for tax abatement for Manufactured Home Community in Exchange for Improvements

November 10th, 2014 Comments off

regency-east-mobile-home-park-willmar-mn-credit=google-earth-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comWillmar, Minnesota’s City Council, following a preliminary okay for tax abatement for the owner of Regency East Mobile Home Park. The hearing is set for December 1. Passage would mean $2500 a year in abatement for the next 10 years, as an offset for negative cash flow during the planned redevelopment.

WCTrib tells MHProNews that new owner Gus Wurdell’s …“Willmar Redevelopment Company LLC intends to replenish the housing supply with new and late-model manufactured homes with two to four bedrooms. Homes will range in size from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet.” The plan calls for all owner occupied homes that lease their sites.

Improvements planned include electrical service upgrades, parking pad overlays, improved drainage, footings, foundations and freshwater service. Privacy fending, removal of abandoned homes, new play area and soccer field, plus a security system were also part of the plan.

Wurdell said in a letter sent mid-September that Regency East suffered from poor management and deferred maintenance, Those resulted in 75 percent vacancy and blight. After several years of trying to take ownership of the park, Wurdell successfully closed on the property in September after several years trying to buy the community.

Council members discussed the apparent ability and track record of Wurdell’s operation to deliver on its promised improvements, which would improve the looks and livability of the neighborhood.

In a story MHProNews ran in September, residents indicated they appreciate the improvements ##

(Editor’s Note: With the number of MHCs that have similar challenges, is what looks to be shaping up in Willmar with private-public cooperation forming to improve this community – is this one possible model for other MHCs?)

(Image credit: Google Earth)

Canadians Investing Large in U.S. Housing Markets

August 29th, 2014 Comments off

canada-us-flags-wikicommons-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-“In the U.S., given the affordability and the fact that prices in the suburbs went down more significantly than in the cities you will see more and more options and opportunities outside big cities,” said Benjamin Tal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) analyst. With Canadian markets hot – and some fear over-heating – the bargains south of the border in the U.S. are appareling, Reuters  tells MHProNews.

Compared to Canadians, U.S. home builders may be more tentative. Canadian firms such as Mattamy Homes, Landmark Group and Brookfield Residential are targeting suburban U.S. markets, where they believe they see more value and lower costs. Some are planning 2 years out, when they believe U.S. recovery will be more solid; a nice way of saying that the bargain deals are here now.

Privately held Mattamy Homes is Canada’s biggest builder. They’ve purchased 9,600 acres in Florida alone this year, but also are operating in Minnesota, Arizona, North Carolina.

Landmark Group is a leader in Alberta. They’ve invested in land in Phoenix, Arizona, to build their first U.S. condos. Texas, California and Georgia are all on their radar.

Calgary, Alberta-based Brookfield Residential announced developments will start developing several new projects this year, ahead of their initial 2016 schedule. 

This news comes on the heals of China-based Landsea’s announcement that they will be doing 1 billion dollars in new U.S. Housing. Canadians investors are among those targeting the U.S. for manufactured home community purchases, for more, click here. ##

(Image credits: WikiCommons)