NORTH ADAMS -- A Connecticut-based management and realty firm is looking to purchase the Wheel Estate Mobile Home Park for $2.73 million from owner Morgan Management.
Tenants of the 200-unit mobile community were notified earlier this week by Morgan Management that a purchase and sales agreement has been signed with Real Estate Seekers LLC, of Gales Ferry, Conn. Under state law, tenants of a mobile home community have 45 days from the time they are notified to make of offer that is equal to or better than the sale price.
According to a letter from 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. Robert Morgan, of Morgan Management, did not respond to calls made by the Transcript on Friday. Morgan Management, which purchased the park in 1999, also owns The Spruces in Williamstown and Pine Valley Mobile Home Park in Cheshire.
City Assessor Ross Vivori said Friday the park is assessed at $2,790,000.
Nathan Weiss, a principal of Real Estate Seekers LLC, a division of Iron Realty started in April 2010, said the company specializes in mobile home park management.
"It’s what we do," Weiss said Friday. "We currently have eight mobile home communities under our management and four more under contract. We actually own three mobile home communities to the south of North Adams [in Hampden County]."
He said the company made the offer to purchase Wheel Estates after talking with Morgan Management.
"We’re always looking for properties," he said. "Our acquisitions manager is out there all the time. We actually send out a newsletter quarterly to every mobile park owner in New England. As it happens, I happen to know the owner of Morgan Management , which is a big company, and knew he was looking to sell it. The park needs some tender loving care, but that’s what we do -- we purchase trouble mobile home parks and improve the infrastructure. We see it as a win-win situation for everyone involved."
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.
"We own two properties in Westfield," Weiss said. "When we purchased the first one, we found the septic system had failed. We put in a new state-of-the-art septic system right away. As a result of that, our relationship with the town was great, and we were later contacted by the town’s sanitation manager about another park with the same problem. The owner basically walked away from it and we were able to buy out the mortgage in foreclosure. We put in a new septic system there too."
He said the company’s philosophy is to keep its mobile home community rents affordable, while also maintaining each property at the appropriate level.
"A mobile home park is comparable to owning a parking lot -- you own the infrastructure and rent out spaces. The homes are owned by the tenants and they are responsible for the upkeep," Weiss said. "If your rent isn’t affordable, then your tenants can’t take care of their property. You don’t want things to become dilapidated; it causes the homes to lose value and can cause homes to become vacant."
While it’s unclear at this time if the Wheel Estates Tenants Association will attempt to secure financing to purchase the park, previous incarnations of the group attempted and failed to secure the necessary funds in 1988 and 1990, when then-owner Fusco Corp. of New Haven, Conn., was attempting to sell the park.
Sandy Overlock, president of the tenants association, did not immediately return calls on Friday.
"We’re big advocates of tenants not purchasing the park," Weiss said. "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. Š Most people are happy to pay their rent for their lot and let someone else do the work."
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.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email