One of the oldest mobile home parks in the city of Durango is for sale, drawing interest from high-density residential developers eyeing the site’s prominent location along the Animas River.
Island Cove Park, on Florida Road near Chapman Hill, has been on the market since June. It is listed at $6.75 million. It is widely regarded as one of the last developable sites along the Animas.
The mobile home park was founded about 40 years ago by the Kill family, which still owns and manages the property. However, Cynthia Roebuck, an agent for the family, said Louis Kill, who founded the site, recently died, and his heirs are now looking to sell.
There are about 75 mobile homes and apartments on the 17-acre property. But given the site’s unique and desirable location along the river, developers in the market are looking at more profitable uses.
Russ Smith, a real estate broker for Keller Williams handling the Island Cove Park sale, said the property is not under contract, but he has been contacted by several interested buyers.
“Being in the heart of the city of Durango, it’s had pretty extensive interest from out-of-town buyers and developers,” Smith said. “What I’m selling today is an active trailer park that is fully occupied. What it can be in the future would be of interest to a buyer.”
The property is zoned Residential High, the city’s most dense residential zoning, which allows 12 to 24 units per acre. Although officially listed as a 17.56-acre site, there are restrictions with the land configuration, so not all that property is developable.
“Whoever wants to develop would have to provide information on slopes, floodway, open space, and from that determine what’s eligible for building,” said Nicol Killian, planning manager for the city.
Killian said she has talked with some developers in relation to the Island Cove Park but nothing outside of general questions about land use. Most interested buyers have expressed a desire in constructing condominiums or some sort of high-density residential complex, she said.
“I think we want to see more residential,” Killian said. “We’re really interested in workforce housing. There are ways the city can work with developers to provide an exchange, and I think we’d definitely be interested in having that conversation.”
Per city code, Killian said any development project with three or more units for sale is required to provide a percentage of those units as affordable housing, or pay an in-lieu fee to help fund affordable housing projects/programs in the city of Durango.
Island Cove Park offers some of the most affordable housing within city limits, with rents for trailer space ranging from $500 to $600 a month. Apartments on the property go for a little more than that.
All of the tenants at the mobile home park have been notified the property is for sale, Smith said. Most of the renters own their mobile home, and it is unclear where they could end up.
“I think some of them have been there for a long, long time,” Smith said. “We’re not trying to do anything other than stay open in the communication with the people who’ve been there for years. Just cause we’re selling it doesn’t mean they’ll be displaced. Some (developers) might want to keep it as it is.”
Within city limits, there are only three mobile home parks, including Island Cove. At Westside Mobile Park, on U.S. Highway 160, rent goes for about $425 a month, but a manager there said there are currently no vacancies for those who own their own trailer.
Sheryl Ayers, a former La Plata County commissioner, has long maintained the importance of mobile homes in the community. She and her husband first lived in a mobile home before purchasing a “stick-built” house in Hesperus.
“It was an investment that allowed us to save money to be able to buy a stick-built home,” Ayers said. ”But for some people, it’s all they can afford. Part of the reason I love Durango is because it’s a real town, with a real mix of people living here.”
Durango is known for its expensive real estate market. The opening of Lumien Apartments, along with 11 other planned affordable-housing projects, could provide some relief. But many still struggle to pay rent, forcing potential renters and homeowners to look elsewhere.
And that’s a problem, Ayers said.
“I wouldn’t paint dire predictions if the mobile home park is taken over and becomes something else, but I would wonder what’s going to happen to all those people who live there. When we look at Telluride, that could tell us what’s in the future for Durango, when people can’t afford to live in town.”