July 11, 2018

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Gates to the Sea Breeze and San Pedro trailer parks, heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma, remain locked pending redevelopment by property owner Sun Communities. Islamorada village planners expect the plan reviews should be complete soon.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Gates to the Sea Breeze and San Pedro trailer parks, heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma, remain locked pending redevelopment by property owner Sun Communities. Islamorada village planners expect the plan reviews should be complete soon.

ISLAMORADA — Two oceanside Plantation Key trailer parks devastated by Hurricane Irma’s storm surge could be less than a year away from reopening.

The former San Pedro and Sea Breeze trailer parks at mile marker 87.4 are nearing the end of Islamorada’s planning process, said Joseph Corradino, interim planning director for the village.

Sun Communities, a Michigan-based operator of RV and manufactured home properties, owns both the former San Pedro and Sea Breeze properties.

“They are well on their way to having their plans approved,” Corradino said last week. “We haven’t seen anything yet that we can’t work through.”

Sun purchased a property that previously separated the two parks and will combine all three parcels.

 The new property “will be integrated into the overall community,” James Hoekstra, Sun Communities senior vice president, said. 

“For all three parcels, approximately 150 manufactured housing lots and RV sites in total” are planned, he said in an email conversation this week. 

Manufactured homes built to hurricane-resistance specifications will be elevated to federal flood standards. 

“The RV sites will be of a rolling-stock type due to RV regulations from the village of Islamorada and will not be permanently affixed to the sites,” Hoekstra said. “Once we have approvals from the village of Islamorada, we will still need to make all the necessary seawall and marina repairs, as well as upland improvements.” 

Those include all-new utilities, such as electric connections, in addition to paving and construction of the RV sites and the manufactured home lots.

Soon after Hurricane Irma displaced the Islamorada parks’ residents, Sun Communities President and Chief Operating Officer John McLaren met with many of them on Plantation Key to say the company would work with them on replacing the units “below cost.”

The offer still stands, Hoekstra said. 

“We at Sun maintain our commitment made to our residents stated last fall, offering new homes for returning residents where we will sell them homes at a $5,000 below our total cost and provide a financing option for them, should they need it,” he said. “The lot rents will remain in line with the lot rents prior to the storm. Sun had not sold many homes in the community previous to Irma, so the new-home pricing structure is being evaluated.”

A tentative time schedule for reopening is in the first quarter of 2019.

“Product designs are underway, rolling out a program by September or October to line up home deliveries with our anticipated opening,” Hoekstra said. “We do not have an exact count for returning residents yet, but look forward to as many as possible returning.” 

The company has reached out to former residents and created an online portal “keeping our customers informed.” 

Corradino said planning review for large projects in Islamorada has been slowed by the loss of local staff combined with a surge in rebuilding applications since the hurricane. 

However, new hires and contracted workers have made significant progress in resolving the backlog, he said. “We’re not quite there yet but we’re getting close.”  

Sun Communities also owns a third Florida Keys property, the Ocean Breeze trailer park in Marathon. That park likely will be the first to resume full operations, a local planner said. 

kwadlow@keysnews.com