Florida Keys News
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Trailer park becoming new community

A national development company is turning an old trailer park on Stock Island into a new gated community of manufactured homes, manicured lawns and white picket fences.

The Sunset Harbor Trailer Park on Fifth Avenue is now Sunset Harbor Community, where 77 pastel-colored, manufactured homes will replace nearly 90 former trailers. In the new community, residents will purchase and own their new home, but will lease the land underneath it from Carefree RV Resorts, a company that owns and operates 61 such communities throughout the United States, said CEO David Napp.

The company bought the trailer park land -- and the adjacent Cow Key Marina -- in 2010, and immediately started landscaping improvements while working with the residents, who faced a rent increase for the lots on which their trailers sat.

Fewer than 20 trailers remain on the property, and those residents are welcome to stay for as long as they like, "as long as they pay monthly rent," Napp said, adding that those residents will "absolutely" have access to the new community's amenities, which include a new swimming pool and outdoor pavilion with grills and gathering areas.

Other amenities include boat slips behind some of the new manufactured homes on the canal that bisects the neighborhood and water views that the previous configuration of the trailer park did not offer, Napp said. Each lot will be surrounded by a white picket fence and lush landscaping, he added.

Local Realtor Terry Spottswood is handling some sales of the new homes, and said most will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but that other sizes are possible.

The home prices range from $114,900 to about $134,900, with the monthly land leases ranging from $800 to $1,200, with canal access and water views commanding the higher prices, said sales associate John Murphy.

The average monthly costs, including mortgage and land lease, for qualified buyers who make a 10 percent down payment would range from $2,300 to $2,750 per month, Spottswood said, emphasizing that there are several variables, such as the amount of the down payment and credit scores.

The homes can be rented out to long-term tenants, but there are no vacation rentals allowed on the property, Spottswood said.

And although the lifestyle is considered affordable, the new community is not a designated affordable housing development, meaning there are no deed restrictions on the amount of profit homeowners could make selling their homes.

Murphy added that the Carefree company offers in-house sales assistance through a consignment program if someone does want to sell.

"Or they always have the option of using their own Realtor," he said.

While many Carefree communities in Florida and Arizona are age-restricted to people over 55, there are no such restrictions at Sunset Harbor, and Napp said he expects the community to include local working families, such as teachers, firefighters and police.

A property manager and full-time maintenance staff are on site at all times. There is a security fence and gated entrance and background checks of each homeowner and tenant, Napp said, adding that all the manufactured structures are made by Jacobsen Homes and built to withstand 180-mph winds.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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