The organizing by residents of Durango’s Westside Mobile Home Park has paid off.
Park owner IQ Mobile Home Parks accepted Elevation Community Land Trust and Westside Mobile Home Park residents’ offer Thursday night. Residents celebrated as the approval marks the end of weeks of organizing that saw Westside residents rally Durango and La Plata County to help purchase the property and secure their homes.
“We all screamed, we cried, we hugged each other. Everyone was just emotional with happiness,” said Alejandra Chavez, a Westside resident and the president of the community’s cooperative.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said.
IQ Mobile Home Parks, the owner of Westside Mobile Home Park, notified Stefka Fanchi, Elevation Community Land Trust’s CEO, that the company had accepted their bid about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Fanchi would not reveal the financial details of the agreement Thursday evening.
Shortly after she was notified, Fanchi called Chavez and the Westside community and they erupted in celebration.
“We had a call where I told them that the offer was accepted and that all their efforts and leadership were the only thing that led to this,” Fanchi said.
Elevation Community Land Trust and Westside residents will now turn to conducting due diligence on the property and finalizing all of the financing and funding that has been committed to the purchase of the park.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but we already went through the first barrier and I’m pretty sure we can tear down the other ones,” Chavez said.
Fanchi plans to visit Durango next week or the week after to meet the residents of Westside in person for the first time.
Once the sale is final, Elevation Community Land Trust will begin working with residents to make immediate improvements that will boost the safety and health of the park and better the daily lives of residents.
“We want to make sure that the water is clean and that there’s not any other environmental issues,” Fanchi said. “From there, we’re just going to continue to work with residents to dream together about what we can build and where we’re going to go with the park from here.”
Rents will not increase for residents, she said.
Elevation Community Land Trust submitted an initial $5.46 million bid on March 15 that was denied three days later by IQ Mobile Home Parks. The company cited another offer it had received, and an attorney for IQ Mobile Home Parks outlined conditions the company was looking for in a second offer.
After a week of reworking their offer, Elevation Community Land Trust, which uses public and private funding to acquire residential properties and increase access to affordable homeownership, tendered a follow-up bid that met the conditions on Saturday.
“It was a cash offer that met all of the requirements,” Fanchi said. “We matched that offer with a cash match and that’s what made it successful.”
In recent weeks, Westside residents have also mobilized their community and Durango to purchase the park.
A GoFundMe launched by the Westside community has raised more than $37,000 as of Thursday evening, and residents have hosted fundraisers at Westside and The Hive.
On March 23, Local First Foundation announced a $535,000 donation through its inaugural La Plata Impact Fund to help residents purchase the park, supplementing a $1.5 million loan La Plata County commissioners had approved earlier in the month.
“We would not have been successful in the offer if we didn’t have so much community support. It was really, really critical,” Fanchi said.
With their Saturday bid, Elevation Community Land Trust and residents asked for a response by the end of the business day Monday, but negotiations continued through the week.
Westside residents have been anxious, but have maintained hope that ultimately their offer would be accepted.
Now that residents have received the good news they are jubilant. Chavez said all of the hard work and anxiety has been worth it.
“Every tear that I dropped, every night that I couldn’t sleep, every time that I got angry or frustrated, it’s worth it for my neighbors, for my family,” she said. “... It was very stressful, but believe me, I do not regret doing this (and) helping my neighbors.”