NORTH ADAMS -- The Wheel Estates Tenants Association will gather at 7 p.m. tonight at the mobile home park's recreation hall to see if there is enough interest to attempt to counter the $2.73 million offer for the park being made by a Connecticut management firm.
Residents of the 200-unit mobile home park were notified last week that Real Estate Seekers LLC, of Gales Ferry, Conn., has signed a purchase and sales agreement with owner Morgan Management, of Pittsford, N.Y.
Morgan Management, which also owns The Spruces in Williamstown, Pine Valley in Cheshire and Allendale Pines in Pittsfield, purchased the park in 2002 from then-owner Fusco Corp., of New Haven, Conn.
Under state law, tenants of a mobile home community have the "right of first refusal" -- 45 days from the time they are notified to make an offer that is equal to or better than the sale price.
"It seems there is a huge amount of interest this time," Sandra Overlock, president of the tenants association, said Monday. "We had a meeting [Sunday] afternoon, just to get together to talk about our options. The people who were there indicated that they were interested in organizing an effort."
In 1988, the tenants association attempted to secure financing to purchase the park when it was put up for sale, but the group couldn't get enough people to join its effort, she said.
According to the Transcript's archives, the disagreement split the tenants association into two factions: the Wheel Estates Home Tenants Association and the United Tenants' Renters Association.
In 1990, when Fusco Corp. received an offer of $2.75 million for the park from an undisclosed buyer, discussions about a buy-out by the tenants once again took place. A group of about 58 tenants went as far as hiring a lawyer to represent them, but dropped their effort a month later, citing uncertainties with potential changes to local mobile home rent control laws as the basis for walking away.
Overlock said there has been no decision on whether the current tenants association will move forward with an effort to buy-out Morgan Management.
"We're just getting organized," she said. "It's going to take several more meetings."
Tonight's meeting will be closed to the media, she said, indicating the association's board members want residents to "feel free to talk."
According to a letter sent to residents at the park last week by George Costonis, the real estate broker who is handling the sale, Real Estate Seekers LLC has already put $50,000 in escrow and plans to pay Morgan Management the balance of the $2.73 million in cash at the time of the sale's closing.
Last week, Nathan Weiss, a principal of Real Estate Seekers LLC, said that the management firm made an offer on the park after meeting with Morgan Management.
"We're big advocates of tenants not purchasing the park," Weiss said last week during a telephone interview. "When a major infrastructure issue arises, coming up with the money can be a very difficult dynamic to manipulate with hundreds of people -- all with different financial backgrounds -- owning the property. ... Most people are happy to pay their rent for their lot and let someone else do the work."
Weiss, along with partners Scott Gladstone and Mark Asnes, currently owns Oaks Mobile Home Park and River Bend Mobile Home Park in Westfield and Acorn Acres Mobile Home Park in Auburn. In Connecticut, the company owns Brookside Mobile Home Park in Waterford, Country Club Estates Mobile Home Park in North Windham, Long Cove Mobile Home Park in Gales Ferry, Sunny Waters Mobile Home Park in Norwich and Sunshine Mobile Home Park in North Grosvenor Dale.
He said the company plans to meet with tenants in the near future to discuss its management style and philosophy and to address any issues.
The city has assessed the park at $2,790,000.