A local developer says he hopes to retain some of the home sites in a Langford seniors manufactured-home park while seeking council support for a variety of uses — everything from townhouses to retail or offices — on the rest of the site.
Other manufactured-home parks in the capital region have closed and the tenants have been evicted when the property is bought for redevelopment, as land costs have increased.
But Jim Hartshorne, president of Tri-Way Development Ltd., is taking a different approach.
“I’m saying that in perpetuity, we accept and understand there is a mobile-home park,” he said Friday. “It may not be this configuration, but there will be one.”
First on the agenda is canvassing the 110 residents of the park, which opened in 1958, to work out a relocation plan, which must be approved by council.
Options to be presented to residents could include everything from staying put to selling their homes to Hartshorne, moving within the site or finding accommodation nearby, he said Friday.
“I want, by far, the largest majority to have options that work for them. And I think we can.”
It’s too early to speculate on plans for the rest of the property, he said. An application for a mixed-use zone, which could include rental and condominium units in apartments and townhouses, offices and a hotel, has been submitted to Langford.
Hartshorne recently signed an agreement to buy the 50-acre property, which is divided by the Trans-Canada Highway, conditional on rezoning approval. The north section is on Skirt Mountain, east of the Leigh Road interchange. The Tri-Way Mobile Home Park at 2780 Spencer Rd. is on part of the southern portion.
Hartshorne is hoping to work out a partnership plan with the Songhees Nation, which has land to the immediate east of Leigh Road.
Ken Nentwig, chairman of the Tri-Way Park Residents Association and one of the residents elected to represent homeowners, said “just about everybody” would like to stay in the manufactured-home park.
Some of the residents have lived in the park, which caters to those 55 plus, for 30 to 40 years, while others just moved in last week, he said.
While some units are up to 60 years old, the newest was built in 2017, Nentwig said.
It’s not clear how many homes could be moved, given their condition. “It requires some evaluation.”
Hartshorne said Tri-Way could serve as an affordable-housing component in the overall development.
He suggests building a modest two-storey building on the park site with about 20 rental units and a community room for all residents. That would allow existing residents who don’t want to maintain a manufactured home to remain in their neighbourhood.
“Something that fits right into the community and feels like it is home,” he said.
Hartshorne is also in the midst of building government-owned Spencer Heights at 2763 Spencer Rd., a 131-unit affordable rental project that includes 13 accessible units. It’s directly across the street from Tri-Way and might suit some Tri-Way residents, he said.
The park will have to be connected with the local sewer system and infrastructure will need to be upgraded, Hartshorne said.
The average rent for a pad is $650 per month. “There is not going to be a dramatic increase in price because I couldn’t look at myself and say that’s fair.”
Al Kemp, executive director of the Manufactured Mobile Home Park Owners Alliance of B.C., said there are about 900 manufactured-home communities in B.C., with 45,000 to 50,000 homes in total. That figure does not include mobile homes located outside of a community.
“Many of them were built about five kilometres outside of town 40 years ago and now they are in town or on the edge of town.”
Rising land prices have seen some parks sold for redevelopment and changed from low- to high-density housing.
Kemp said he likes Hartshorne’s approach — “as much as possible to protect the homes of the people there.”
Manufactured homes offer an affordable option for homebuyers starting out, Kemp said, noting the word trailer isn’t used any more because modern manufactured homes do not have wheels or hitches and have sturdy construction, roofs and insulation.
Many park owners are holding on to them because they are a great long-term investment, he said.