The owners of Westbury Park – a 250-lot mobile home park off Colchester’s Route 7 – have accepted an offer from a co-op comprised of its current residents to purchase the park.
The Westbury Homeowners’ Association, a co-op comprised of more than half the park’s residents, made the offer in mid-November, according to the park’s broker Tom Weaver. The sale price of the state’s second largest park was listed at $11.5 million, though Weaver declined to share the tenants’ offer.
Residents were dismayed in July to learn that the park owner, the Betty Boyer Atkins Revocable Living Trust, intended to sell Westbury. But Vermont law provides mobile home owners with some safeguards, requiring park owners to allow tenants to bid before opening up the sale to the greater market.
Per law, the residents needed more than half the park’s consent to buying the park, a threshold they far surpassed, Weaver said.
“The [co-op’s] lawyer and the park’s lawyers came to an agreement on the purchase price, and since we came to that agreement, we have to continue with due diligence,” co-op board president Mike Pelkey said.
The sale is now in the middle of a 120-day period in which the co-op, aided by the Cooperative Development Institute, will carry out due diligence and ensure the park’s condition is manageable for residents. CDI will finance the sale, Weaver said.
Pelkey and his five board colleagues have gone door-to-door distributing forms that inquire about any property issues the tenants might have. The forms, as well as inspections, will help engineers determine what, if any, repairs must be made and how much they’ll add to the final cost.
“I hope the infrastructure comes out pretty good,” Pelkey said. “Betty took pretty good care of the park, so I don’t think it’d be too major.”
But should the mortgage require the co-op board to increase rents, the board will have to hold another vote for approval of the sale. Any resident who pays $5 into the co-op will have a voting say, according to Pelkey. They’ll then contribute $20 at closing and $5 a month until they’ve reached the full $100 membership dues.
Current residents are not required to join, but Pelkey said it would behoove them.
“Once everything’s fixed and everything, and we get ourselves going, we can probably reduce the rent,” he said, adding only members will reap the reward of lower rent. “People that have joined are positive about it.”
As of last month, around 167 residents had paid dues. If the co-op closes on the park, it will become a nonprofit organization and manage the space democratically through the board.
“We’re going to try to do as much work as we can ourselves,” Pelkey said of park ownership. “If we have to mow the common areas, well, we’ll find volunteers. We’ll mow the common areas just to save every penny we can to keep the rent down.”
Pelkey is hesitant to discuss the future until the purchase process is complete, but he’s cautiously hopeful.
“The previous owner, Betty Atkins, wanted it to stay a park,” he said. “All that is in our better interest.”