Residents of Tanglewood Estates voted last week to buy the Keene mobile-home community and manage it under cooperative ownership.
The 58-55 vote gives the cooperative 60 days to close on the purchase, Christopher Villeneuve, president of the co-op’s board, said Saturday.
The co-op has already lined up financing, through a combination of loans and grants, he said.
“It feels really good, because if we are successful in this, and what our vision is, we’re gonna be keeping a nice hunk of affordable housing in the city of Keene,” he said. The park’s residents include veterans, senior citizens and people with disabilities, he said.
With the vote, the co-op comes one step closer to the end of a process kicked off late last year, when Michigan-based RHP Properties made a $20 million offer to buy Tanglewood from its owner, Vancouver-based The Hynes Group. RHP owns more than 230 mobile-home communities in 24 states, according to its website.
New Hampshire law says mobile-home park owners must notify residents before a sale so they can make a purchase offer of their own, if they choose.
Residents of Tanglewood — a tree-lined community of 328 home sites — formed a co-op in December to explore a possible purchase.
Villeneuve said the co-op’s acquisition of the property will mean a $6 increase in monthly rent. Any further increases will have to be approved by a vote.
RHP had promised to limit rent increases to $14 annually. The current rent is $549.
A few weeks ago, Villeneuve said, the co-op had been looking at a potentially higher rent hike. But after receiving information from other cooperative-owned communities about how they operate and keep costs down, the Tanglewood co-op was able to get to the $6 figure.
Chris Rondeau, a Tanglewood resident, described last week’s meeting as somewhat contentious, with some people who were against the purchase frustrated after the close vote. He said he’s a strong supporter of the cooperative purchasing the park.
“I think the co-op is gonna be great, because we have the say in when we want to fix things and how we want to fix things,” Rondeau said.
He said he thinks some people were attracted to RHP’s offer, believing that the company would quickly repair the roads and make other improvements. Rondeau said the co-op won’t be able to fix everything overnight, but trusts local ownership to take better care of the park than an out-of-state corporation.
Rondeau was one of a handful of residents who said they’re frustrated with the state of the park’s infrastructure, and think the co-op will do a better job maintaining it.
Tanglewood residents Sue Wood and Vinson Stoddard Sr. said they are happy about co-op ownership, in part because they think it’ll be more accountable to residents and keep costs down. “If it hadn’t passed, I would probably sell this place and get out of here,” Stoddard said.
Not everyone agreed. Donna, a Tanglewood resident who asked that her last name not be printed, said she worries improvements will be costly and said a company that has owned other parks would be better equipped to handle them. “I’d rather have someone buy it who’s used to running one,” she said.
Another resident, who declined to have his name printed, said he opposed the co-op purchase because he felt the financing numbers “didn’t add up.”
Several other residents approached by The Sentinel on Saturday said they hadn’t really been following the issue, or would have been fine with either outcome.