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Residents hope to buy mobile home park

Residents of Mobel Americana, the largest mobile home park in the city, are trying to buy the park from its California owner, according to the president of the residents' association.

Richard Linville, president of the Mobel Americana Residents Association, said this week that he and others are working to round up a down payment on the $18-million purchase price for the 758-lot park, at 7201 First St. NE.

By taking charge of the park's operation, residents expect they can provide better service at lower cost, Linville said.

According to the Pinellas County property appraiser's office, the owner is De Anza Properties, which has a mailing address of Beverly Hills, Calif. Representatives of the park owner could not be reached for comment.

David Bernstein, an attorney for the residents, said the residents have outbid a $16.2-million offer from another corporation that wants to buy the park. And according to state law, the residents have the right of first refusal in buying the park, Bernstein said.

"They're really rallying out there to convert this park to resident ownership," Bernstein said.

Bernstein said the group working on the buyout has to persuade 389 residents to purchase a share _ for $27,500 each _ in the residents' corporation that would own the park. Each of the 758 shares would entitle each resident to exclusive use of his or her lot.

Representatives of a few area banks have visited the park to discuss financing for residents who want to buy shares in the corporation. So far, 270 residents of the 389 have agreed to do so, Bernstein said. And residents have a commitment for $14.4-million of financing from an area bank, he said. "We anticipate converting this park to resident ownership."

Those who cannot or do not want to buy a share in the park could remain in the park and pay rent to the residents' ownership company, Linville said.