Residents of a mobile-home park in Keene have taken another step toward purchasing the community themselves and operating it as a cooperative.
Last week, the board of the Tanglewood Park Cooperative, Inc., approved a purchase and sale agreement, according to Christopher Villeneuve, the board president. The cooperative’s lawyers are submitting the agreement to the park’s owner this week, Villeneuve said.
The purchase and sale agreement is an intermediate step that allows the cooperative to study the details before making a final decision on whether to buy.
Residents of Tanglewood Estates formed the cooperative last month, after the park’s owner — The Hynes Group, based in Vancouver — received a $20 million offer on the property from Michigan-based RHP Properties. Under New Hampshire law, the owner of a mobile home park must give tenants the chance to make an offer of their own before selling it to another entity.
A tree-lined set of streets at the junction of Court Street and Maple Avenue, Tanglewood Estates has 328 home sites on 99 acres, according to its website and city property records. More than 60 households have joined the cooperative, Villeneuve said.
But some Tanglewood residents still have reservations, he said. Those concerns surfaced at a December meeting at Jonathan Daniels Preschool, where about 100 people packed into a multi-purpose room to discuss the option. While many attendees said they liked the idea of local control and ownership, others worried that cooperative ownership would lead to ineffective management and higher costs for residents.
RHP Properties owns and operates more than 230 mobile-home communities in 24 states, according to its website. Tanglewood and three other Hynes Group properties that RHP hopes to acquire would be the company’s first communities in New Hampshire.
Joshua Mermell, RHP’s senior vice president of acquisitions, said the formation of a residents’ co-op does not affect the company’s timeline for the purchase.
“RHP Properties is committed to continuing the process to purchase Tanglewood Estates,” he said in an emailed statement provided by a spokesman. “We respect the rights of the residents and the process. Our plan is to move forward — if possible — with the acquisition.”
He added that RHP has “30 years of high-quality management experience and stable ownership.”
The Hynes Group did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
The cooperative’s offer, should residents decide to move forward, would match RHP’s $20 million offer, according to Villeneuve.
The law requires an owner to “consider” an offer from residents and “negotiate in good faith” with them.
The N.H. Community Loan Fund’s resident-owned community program — a Concord-based nonprofit organization that helps mobile-home residents navigate the purchase and cooperative-ownership process — is helping the cooperative apply for a $500,000 grant to defray the price.
According to a financing breakdown the Community Loan Fund provided to the Keene City Council, buying the park would cost $21.2 million, including the purchase price and various costs associated with the transaction.
The purchase would be financed through a mortgage and a Community Loan Fund investment, which would require annual payments totaling about $1.5 million, according to the document. Operating the park could cost another $650,000 or so per year.
The financing breakdown is a preliminary estimate based on RHP’s numbers, for the purposes of applying for the grant, Villeneuve said. Once the co-op does its own research into the property, he said, it could come up with different numbers.
The Community Loan Fund’s cost breakdown estimates that a rent of $584 per lot per month would allow the cooperative to earn about $2.2 million annually, covering its costs. That would represent a $35 per month increase over the current rent of $549.
But Villeneuve stressed that the co-op won’t know the true cost of operating the park, and how that would affect rent, until it studies the financials. He said he hopes rent would actually go down, not up.
With the purchase and sale agreement, the cooperative has time to do that research. “Just like when somebody’s buying a regular home, you have to do all the due diligence,” Villeneuve said.
A final purchase decision would require a vote of the co-op members. If a majority are unsatisfied with some aspect of the deal, they can walk away, Chris Monroe, a housing cooperative specialist with the Community Loan Fund, said in December.
Villeneuve said he thinks the co-op could have enough information to make a final decision in the next few months.
This article has been updated to clarify that the financial breakdown presented to the City Council is preliminary and subject to change.