Friendly Village mobile home park in Redmond will remain both a park and affordable following King County Housing Authority’s recent purchase of the 40-acre property. The Housing Authority took over operations on Nov. 1
The prior owners of the park, which is reserved for residents aged 55 and over, said that they wanted to preserve the property as a mobile home park, according to the Housing Authority.
“What we’re really delighted about is that they wanted to maintain it as a mobile home park for the people that were there instead of selling to a private developer,” said director of communications Rhonda Rosenberg.
The Housing Authority paid $25 million for the park, which consists of 224 mobile home pads, putting the price of each pad at roughly $111,000. The Housing Authority took out a line of credit to finance the purchase.
Residents own their homes at the park, but pay on average only $782 a month for a space in the park. That’s far lower than rent elsewhere in Redmond and throughout King County.
Rosenberg said if a private developer had purchased the property, even one that would keep it as a park, rent prices would have likely ballooned. This would have presented a problem for many of the seniors who live there.
“We don’t have a profit motive, like a for-profit private developer,” Rosenberg said.
Long-time resident Arthur Ingalls said that many of his neighbors are on fixed incomes. If they had been evicted or priced out, many would have had no place to go, presenting local authorities with a dilemma.
“They’d have two or three hundred senior citizens on their hands,” Ingalls said while clearing leaves from his walkway earlier this week.
Because the former owners wanted to keep the property as a park, Ingalls said he wasn’t too worried when he heard it was up for sale, but was worried that a new owner would begin hiking up rates.
Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was cautiously optimistic about the Housing Authority buying the park.
Nancy Fudge, manager for the park, said operations will continue as usual.
“It’s been here a long time, and when it first came up for sale, a lot of people were very upset because they were afraid a developer was going to come in and get rid of them,” she said.
The Marcus family, which had owned the park, was specific they wanted it preserved, despite there being private interest in the park, Fudge said.
The residents of the Friendly Village park are more fortunate than those of the former Firwood Mobile Park in Kirkland.
Firwood, located in a prime location in Juanita, was bought in 2015 by a private developer, who ripped out the affordable housing and replaced it with around 20 high-end homes.
The residents of Firwood were forced to relocate, and many of them couldn’t move their mobile homes due to safety concerns surrounding relocating old structures.
Rosenberg said mobile home parks, which provide relatively cheap housing for many low-and-fixed income earners, are disappearing as market pressures lead owners to sell and developers to create expensive houses, condos, or apartments. Residents of the Firs Mobile Home Park in SeaTac, for instance, are currently witnessing this pressure firsthand as they fight an impending development.
“These people would probably otherwise be homeless,” Rosenberg said of the residents of Friendly Village.
This story first ran in the The Redmond Reporter.