NORTH ADAMS -- The Wheel Estates Tenants Association has been approved for a $4.1 million mortgage, putting residents one step closer toward owning their mobile home park.
"I feel great," Tenants Association President Sandra Overlock said Wednesday afternoon. "It's been a long time coming and a lot of work, and the residents deserve this."
Under state law, residents have the right of first refusal, the ability to purchase the park by matching a $2.73 million purchase and sales agreement signed by owner Morgan Management and Real Estate Seekers LLC of New Haven, Conn.
The Tenant's Association received assistance from Resident Owned Communities (ROC) USA and the Community Development Institute (CDI), two non-profits that work with residents looking to purchase their mobile home parks.
ROC USA President Paul Bradley said the organization's lending arm, ROC USA Capital, approved a $4.1 million mortgage for the Tenants Association on Tuesday afternoon.
"The mortgage will be used to conclude the purchase of the park, and to implement the first round of capital improvements on the park," Bradley said.
The Tenants Association initially petitioned the board in late February for a $49 rent increase, which it needed to secure a mortgage. But the process proved to be difficult, as board procedures in place were for private ownership of parks rather than tenant-owned cooperatives. Residents expressed their frustration with the situation, as the March 27 deadline to purchase the park was fast approaching.
At a meeting on March 19, board member Joseph Gniadek presented all parties with an updated petition for a rent increase that took factors such as debt service into consideration. In addition, CDI negotiated an extension of the purchase and sales agreement deadline to April 13.
"Everyone really came to the table with a problem solving attitude and were able to reach a resolution," Bradley said.
Overlock said the next step will be holding a meeting of the Tenants Association's 105 shareholders, which will take place Saturday.
"Shareholders have to vote to sign the loan," Overlock said.
After the loan is accepted, the Tenants Association and ROC will continue negotiating the purchase of the park with owner Morgan Management, she added.
Bradley said ROC USA will continue to provide technical assistance and guidance to the Tenants Association after the purchase and sales agreement is finalized.
Overlock said shareholders will also be discussing the capital improvements they want to make to the park.
"Right now our major objective will be to do infrastructure work on Navajo and Apache drive," she said. Overlock explained residents want to address issues with water and sewer lines, along with drainage and paving on those streets.
"It's been many, many years since that was done. It's hard to drive or walk there now," Overlock said.
To reach Edward Damon, email