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Westside Mobile Home Park residents wait for news

Elevation Community Land Trust asked for a response by Monday, but negotiations are in progress
Residents of Westside Mobile Home Park rally after owner IQ Mobile Home Parks’ rejection of their first $5.46 million offer to buy the park. Elevation Community Land Trust submitted a second offer for the park Friday on behalf of residents that satisfied the demands IQ Mobile Home Parks set in a letter through their attorneys. Elevation Community Land Trust asked for a response by the end of the day Monday, but IQ Mobile Home Parks requested a one day extension. Tuesday afternoon Stefka Fanchi, Elevation Community Land Trust’s CEO, said in an email that negotiations were ongoing and any conclusion was likely at least two days away. (Aedan Hannon/Durango Herald file)

Residents of Westside Mobile Home Park are anxious to hear about the fate of their homes, but they continue to wait.

Elevation Community Land Trust submitted a second offer for Westside Mobile Home Park on Friday and asked for a response from owner IQ Mobile Home Parks by the end of the business day Monday. However, the broker for the property informed Elevation Community Land Trust on Monday afternoon that the owner wanted another day to respond to the offer. As of Tuesday afternoon Stefka Fanchi, Elevation Community Land Trust’s CEO, said negotiations were ongoing.

Residents of Westside Mobile Home Park have taken the delay as a sign of hope, but remain anxious as they await news.

“My neighbors are texting me, calling me (asking) what’s going on, but I’m like them waiting to know what did they decide,” said Alejandra Chavez, a Westside Mobile Home Park resident and the president of the community’s cooperative.

Residents and Elevation Community Land Trust had until Sunday to submit a second bid after IQ Mobile Home Parks turned down an initial $5.46 million offer Elevation Community Land Trust submitted on March 15.

In a rejection letter sent to Elevation Community Land Trust’s CEO Stefka Fanchi, Bove Law Offices’ Benjamin Goldberg, an associate attorney, wrote that the owners had also received a cash offer with more favorable conditions, including no financial or appraisal contingencies.

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 Goldberg outlined in the letter and that was slightly better than the other cash offer IQ Mobile Home Parks received, Fanchi said.

“We were excited. It mirrored (the other offer) and solved each of the issues that was raised in a letter,” she said.

When Fanchi submitted the bid Friday, she received bounce back messages from some of those involved in the sale saying they were out of town for the weekend, she said.

After a one-day extension, Fanchi said Tuesday afternoon that negotiations were in progress and any conclusion to the sale was likely at least two days away.

“I think an accurate assessment would be that Elevation Community Land Trust is still waiting to hear from the seller on our second offer,” Fanchi said in an email.

The delay prolongs weeks of effort by Elevation Community Land Trust and months of organizing by Westside Mobile Home Park residents.

IQ Mobile Home Parks first notified residents that the company intended to sell the property Dec. 20.

Under legislation passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2020, homeowners in a mobile park have the right to offer to buy the park within a 90-day period if the property is up for sale or if the landlord plans to change the use of the land. Park owners must “negotiate in good faith” with residents, according to the bill.

“Because many people living in mobile home parks own their home but not the land upon which it sits, park owners can wield significant power over housing security,” legislators wrote in the bill titled “Mobile Home Park Residents Opportunity To Purchase.” “... The scarcity of vacancies in other parks and the high costs of relocating a mobile home make relocation of a mobile home nearly impossible. When a mobile home park closes, mobile homeowners can find themselves pushed into poverty.”

Since residents of Westside Mobile Home Park were first informed of the sale, they have created a park co-op and partnered with Elevation Community Land Trust to submit an offer to purchase the park.

After the denial of their initial offer March 18, Westside Mobile Home Park residents rallied Durango and La Plata County to support their efforts to purchase the park.

A GoFundMe launched by the Westside Mobile Home Park community has raised more than $36,000 as of Tuesday afternoon, and residents have hosted fundraisers at Westside Mobile Home Park and The Hive.

Local First Foundation announced March 23 the group would donate $535,000 from its inaugural La Plata Impact Fund to help residents purchase the park. La Plata County commissioners also approved a $1.5 million loan earlier in March to aid in the purchase of the property.

In the last two weeks, Elevation Community Land Trust has worked with financial and community organizations and leaders in the area and across the state to build a competitive second offer that met the conditions presented in Bove Law Offices’ letter, Fanchi said last week.

Chavez said residents of Westside Mobile Home Park have taken IQ Mobile Home Parks’ request for an extension as good news; the company denied their first offer outright.

However, nerves continue to build.

“We feel positive because when we put our first offer in we received the news by 11 in the morning,” Chavez said. “Honestly, we feel happy that this hopefully is going to happen. We are anxious, nervous, but full of positive vibes.”


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