After more than two years of presentations to Langford council; assessments, appraisals and negotiations with tenants, the way is paved for a former trailer park to become a major apartment complex.
Property on which the now-closed Shirlmae Mobile Home Park sat, on Hoylake Road directly behind Liquor Planet on Millstream Road, has been sold to a Vancouver developer by local partners who bought out the residents. Council recently approved the rezoning necessary for purchaser Molmar Group to proceed with its planned 150-unit project.
“They will be very similar in frame and structure to the units we just completed at Jacklin Station,” said Dak Molmar, whose company just opened that 94-unit rental property.
The plan is for a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, with construction expected to begin this fall after site clearing and landscaping is complete. There is no timeline yet for an opening date, he said, “but I expect the first renter to be in there late fall or early winter of 2016.”
Ron Cheeke, one of the partners who bought the property two years ago and started the redevelopment and rezoning process, talked about his involvement.
“That place was created in the early 1960s,” he said. The property was pointed out to him by an accountant friend who thought it would make a nice addition to his nearby business ventures – the Loghouse Pub and Liquor Planet.
Although there was some resistance from residents when buyouts were first proposed, Cheeke said, they began to get on board once he explained the situation.
“The septic system was failing. The electrical system was failing. It was just clear that the park had outlived its use,” he said. “The lifespan of mobile home parks is about 40 years, so when you do the math …”
Smoothing the path was the fact each resident negotiated what they would be compensated upon their departure.
The process of redeveloping a mobile home park for another use is complex and takes time, however, due to a Langford policy around “fair compensation” that aims to protect a park’s residents, said Langford planning director Matthew Baldwin.
As Cheeke said, “Everyone has different views on what’s fair, so some negotiations were more difficult than others.”
Since it’s up to the mobile homeowner to decide whether a compensation offer is fair, Baldwin said, the system favours residents rather than developers, and it was introduced that way on purpose.
When residents were initially presented with appraisals of the value of their home that were secured by Cheeke’s partnership, there was an uproar, Baldwin said, so council got involved and had independent appraisals done for each home. “Some of the owners also had their own appraisals that had been done for financing purposes and whatnot, which added a third level of appraisal to the process,” he said.
“I’m not going to speak on whether everyone’s happy with their compensation,” Baldwin said, but he pointed out there were no residents at the public hearing for the most recent rezoning application to speak in opposition.
This is the first time a mobile home park has been purchased for the purposes of redevelopment, he said. There was one other park that was purchased that caused a stir around 2008, he said, where residents feared they were to be pushed out, but that didn’t end up being the case and the new owner has actually reinvested in the park itself since its purchase.
Land-clearing machinery should start moving in to Millstream and Hoylake roads early in May.