Midvale • Home sweet home — almost.
The residents of Applewood Park, a community of manufactured homes near the TRAX line at 7500 S. 200 West, have struggled for four years to keep from being evicted by developers eager to build high-density housing on 56 lots there.
Now, the residents — mostly senior citizens on fixed incomes — see a brighter future.
“It’s a success story,” said Shirlene Stoven, president of the homeowners association. “We’ve had our moments of hope and our moments of giving up.”
But it’s not a done deal yet.
In 2013, residents learned of a plan by ICO Multifamily Holdings, whose chairman was Clark Ivory — who also was the CEO of Ivory Homes — to build a 186-unit apartment complex where Applewood now sits.
In December 2013, rents on lots were raised by $70 and another $70 increase went into effect in June — a total 44 percent bump from $320 to $460. Some residents also were paying mortgages on their homes — also known as mobile homes — as well as rent.
Stoven characterized the move as a legal way to evict residents quickly. She pressed Applewood’s case to Midvale City, where Mayor JoAnn Seghini took residents’ side because the park provided affordable housing for seniors.
In 2016, Midvale amended it’s Transit Oriented Development zone and reduced housing density in that zone, making it less profitable. Ivory followed suit by selling the property to developers Nate Brockbank and Paul Shupe.
The Tribune was unable to reach the pair.
The Applewood homeowners then approached the new owners, who have given them a shot at purchasing the land.
“They really cared, which was refreshing to know there are good people out there,” Stoven said of Brockbank and Shupe. “We want to praise them highly for the chance to own the land and live in peace and not have to worry about price hikes.”
The newly organized Applewood Homeowners Cooperative Inc. has secured a $1 million loan from the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund and a loan of $3.6 million from ROC USA, a New Hampshire-based nonprofit dedicated to resident ownership of manufactured home communities.
That brings them to $4.6 million. The asking price for the 7.7 acres that once was an apple orchard is $5 million.
The Applewood Cooperative also is seeking a $100,000 loan from Midvale City. The decision on that funding is set for a Nov. 14 City Council meeting.
In the meantime, Stoven, vice president Lisa Marquardt and treasurer Merridy Bagley are busy fundraising. They have established a GoFundMe account at Save Applewood Seniors.
Their goal, Stoven said, is to reduce the monthly payment assessed to each member of the cooperative to a level that can be afforded by seniors struggling to make ends meet.
If they don’t raise any more money, monthly payments would be $575 to $600 per month, Marquardt said. Additional donations would bring down the rent.
“We are a low-income community. At that rate, a dozen of our resident would spent half of their income on rent,” she said. “Every month presents major decisions for many of our people.”
They hope to close the sale by mid-December.