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Eviction threat rattles Port Richey Mobile Home Park

The Port Richey Mobile Home Park may be razed to make way for a development if the City Council approves a site plan.

Camille C. Spencer | Times

The Port Richey Mobile Home Park may be razed to make way for a development if the City Council approves a site plan.

PORT RICHEY — The first hint that Margaret Worden and her neighbors might be evicted came from the public meeting sign posted at the Port Richey Mobile Home Park.

The sign appeared a few days ago. Worden, a seven-year resident at the park at U.S. 19 and Grand Boulevard, started asking around. She learned a developer plans to raze the mobile home park and build a hotel, retail center and restaurant.

Now, Worden, 66, and other residents are wondering where they'll go if the Port Richey City Council approves the developer's site plan Nov. 11. By law, they must get six months' notice to leave.

Worden, like 17 other residents at the park, owns her mobile home and could relocate it — although some of the units are so old, they could prove difficult to move.

Another 28 units are occupied by renters.

"If it's a bluff, I want to fight it," said Worden. "I'm a feisty old bird. If it's not a bluff, I'll wait it out."

The 4.92-acre park is owned by Ron Asmar of Treasure Coast Properties LLC, based in Southfield, Mich. The park is worth $2-million for tax purposes, according to the county Property Appraiser's Office.

The site plan was first pitched to the city Building Department in 2006, said Ed Winch, city building official, but the developer's plans didn't gain momentum until this year.

The development calls for an 89,655-square-foot hotel, 18,300 square feet of retail space, a 6,446-square-foot restaurant and 282 parking spots. It is projected to employ about 60 people.

Forty-six of the 75 lots at the park are occupied, said David Browne, the property's manager. Browne, 29, who also owns a mobile home, said he is still signing six-month leases for tenants. One-year leases haven't been available since 2005, he said, in anticipation of the park being redeveloped.

He said those who own their mobile homes pay about $258 per month to lease the land underneath, while renters pay about $500 a month, depending on the size of the unit.

Like Worden, who is Browne's mother, Browne is trying to figure out where to move his mobile home — which was built in 1963 — if he receives a notice to vacate.

"I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for a good piece of property to move my trailer to within a 50-mile radius," Browne said. "I'm playing it by ear."

Janet Garrett, executive director of the Tallahassee-based Florida Mobile Home Relocation Corporation, said it's up to mobile home movers to decide if a unit is too old to move.

"The standard year is 1984, but installers have moved one (mobile home) back to 1968," she said. "It depends on the condition of the home itself."

City Council member Perry Bean said he supports redeveloping the park, just north of the Pithlachascotee River.

"Anyone would agree that it's a significant improvement over a trailer park," Bean said of the proposed development. "We just have to figure out if these grand plans are going to fit in this space."

On Wednesday afternoon, Sharon Hosier stood outside her mobile home, wondering where she'd move if she had to go.

Hosier, 43, her husband and two sons moved into a rental unit just three weeks ago. Then they found out from neighbors about the proposed development.

"I'm upset, because it's not right," Hosier said. "They should let us stay here."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Eviction threat rattles Port Richey Mobile Home Park 10/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2008 5:14pm]
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