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Mobile home park is sold

Colony Cove Mobile Home Park residents form a co-op and buy the 288-lot property for $7.75-million.

By JENNIFER GOLDBLATT

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Some of the residents of Colony Cove Mobile Home Park have become its owners. The Colony Cove Co-Op Inc., a group of 115 Colony Cove residents, bought the 55-acre park for $7.75-million from A & H Limited Inc., the investment group that had owned it since at least 1993. The park has 288 lots and approximately 400 residents.

Given the county's vast amount of development, the residents wanted to ensure that Colony Cove continues as a mobile home park and wanted to decide how much they pay to live there.

"Big money prospects are apt to come in here and decide to purchase us for reasons other than a mobile home park," said Roland Bielinski, president of the Colony Cove Co-Op Inc. "We didn't want to get sucked up in the development process."

The residents assumed an existing mortgage for $5.3-million. Each of the 115 lot owners who chose to buy shares paid $24,900 to do so, which included closing costs and provided cash reserves for the co-op. Those residents financed that payment with cash and consumer loans.

Shareholders will also pay a $150 monthly maintenance fee. That, in addition to the rent payments from lot owners who opted not to buy, will go to pay the operating expenses of the community, fund reserves and make mortgage payments. The deal closed Jan. 22.

The co-op has hired Florida Community Services Group Inc., which manages six other resident-owned mobile home parks, to manage the 23-year old park. David Huey, a principal in the A & H partnership, said that he decided to sell the park after he got an unsolicited offer from a mobile home park investor last year. Florida statutes give residents right of first refusal on the sale of mobile home parks.

If the residents didn't purchase the property, there were other buyers "waiting in the wings," said attorney David Bernstein, who represented the residents in the transaction.

Bielinski said that residents have been discussing the idea to buy the park for years, but because more than half of the residents live there seasonally, it was difficult to complete the process.

The conversion of privately owned mobile home parks to member-owned cooperatives has become increasingly common. About 700 of the state's 5,000 mobile home parks are owned by residents, industry experts say.

- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.

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