WILMINGTON — As the region continues to grow and cost of living continues to rise, mobile home parks might become a thing of the past in Wilmington.
Numerous parks have been condemned, sold or put up for sale in recent years. Here’s a sampling:
- There are two mobile home parks currently listed for sale on Myrtle Grove Road alone, just one mile apart. 6506 Myrtle Grove Road is listed for $1,853,000 and 6018 Myrtle Grove Road is listed for $1,250,000.
- Last year, Hidden Lakes Mobile Home Park was sold for $4,000,000. The property is still zoned as a manufactured housing park, but it is listed for rezoning in accordance with development plans for The Avenue, a proposed development that would construct 500 apartments and a Westin Hotel.
- Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park and Wheel Estates II have both been vacated within the year.
- Arboretum West LLC applied for the official closing of West Westfield Road of the Westfield Heights mobile home park in February of last year.
- Melrose Mobile Home Park was sold, vacated and approved by City Council to be rezoned to a mixed-use development, all within the past two years.
What’s driving mobile home parks out of Wilmington?
Although property value is steadily on the rise in Wilmington and surrounding areas, financial gain may not be the sole motivating factor in the recent trend of mobile home park operators undergoing rezoning and transitioning ownership. Some owners may face increasing pressure from the county and public to operate a mobile home park.
“The county has made it increasingly difficult to operate a mobile home park,” said Chip Moore, the listing agent for the mobile home park on 6018 Myrtle Grove Road.
“Between the county and state changes in legislation, their revamped legislation makes it increasingly difficult to maintain a business like that,” he said.
County and city officials, however, said there has not been any recent changes to the law.
“To our knowledge and based on everything that we have, there hasn’t been a policy change on mobile home parks from the county,” said Jessica Loeper, communications and outreach coordinator for New Hanover County.
Many of the mobile home parks that have sold or are currently listed on the market are located within city limits. Malissa Talbert, communications manager for Wilmington, said there have not been any recent policy changes for the operation and management of mobile home parks.
“We do have minimum housing codes that we do apply to everybody across the city,” Talbert said. “Maybe there’s been some enforcement.”
“(If) a house is unfit to live in or it’s unsightly, they don’t meet some of the code criteria that is clearly outlined, and if a complaint comes in, then we go out and inspect the property,” she said.
The potential pressure to sell or rezone could be coming from public opinion. In a public city council neighborhood planning meeting regarding the status of Seagate South, a consensus was reached to “change it,” stating the intention to “limit mobile homes and modular homes.”
Executive director Brad Lovin for the North Carolina Manufactured and Modular Homebuilders Association feels the closing of mobile home parks comes from a “not-in-my-backyard” mentality.
“All across North Carolina there’s this tremendous affordable housing crisis, and these local governments are spending millions of dollars, of taxpayer dollars, to subsidize more affordable housing, all while doing everything they can through their zoning ordinances to discriminate the use of manufactured housing, whether it’s in a community or an individual lot,” Lovin said.
Though Lovin does not specifically cover Wilmington mobile home market trends, he believes local closings are representative of a statewide issue.
“There’s been opportunity for companies to buy the land, and of course this means you have to close the park and the residents have to move,” he said. “My general perspective of it is, is local governments encourage that because it can generate a higher revenue, a big-box retail can move into that available land.”