St. Anthony Village RV park set to sell to developer, residents asked to move


The 15-acre Lowry Grove RV park in St. Anthony is being sold for an undisclosed amount of money to a developer. Residents at the park have a year to find new housing. (Jesse Poole/Bulletin)

The residents of nearly 100 homes in St. Anthony were told Wednesday that they would have to pack up and leave within a year's time. According to the owners of Lowry Grove, LLP, a trailer park located off the 2500 block of Lowry Avenue N.E., the property is being sold to a developer.

The location, not far from Minneapolis and eyed for years by interested parties, had not been listed for sale, but according to Phil Johnson, the managing partner of the RV park, the idea of selling it had been on the table a long time for the five owners. 

The sale agreement came, in part, by way of a relationship between the property owners and a former employee.
The property, just larger than 15 acres in size, is being sold to Wayzata-based Continental Property Group, the president of which was once the property manager of Lowry Grove. 

"We'd been contacted on a fairly regular basis for a number of years," Johnson said. "But we wanted to make sure it was the right fit. We wanted to make sure we had the right developer that would treat our residents correctly and we found that when we found Continental Property Group."

Traci Tomas, president of Continental Property Group and a resident of New Brighton, worked for Lowry Grove about a decade ago. She said over the five years she worked there, she got to know some of the tenants.Tomas noted that she still recognized some of the names when she looked over a list of the residents.

According to both Tomas and Johnson, this sale agreement was made with the understanding that each resident would be compensated in some way. 

"There's a state statute that governs the closing down of a manufactured housing community and we'll have to follow that closely," Johnson said. "My sense is that [the buyer] will do everything it can to properly compensate the residents for either their homes or paying for them to move their homes."

Just what that compensation is, according to Tomas, will depend upon the individual. 

In a press conference at the park Wednesday, both Tomas and Johnson expressed an understanding that moving out may be difficult for some of the tenants, as they are either dependent upon the affordable rent rate, or simply because they call their RV spot home.

"That's the way life is sometimes," Johnson said, referring to the struggle tenants might face in moving out of the park. 

Johnson said the residents will have the "right, per statute, to know what the land is sold for," but as of yet, neither Johnson nor Tomas would go on record with the exact dollar amount of the sale. 

"The little bit of reaction that we've received, [tenants] have responded like they expected it and like they understand why we're moving ahead," Johnson said, noting that not all the residents had heard the news, as some were at work and others had not yet received the notice. In interviews, a handful of residents said they were not shocked by the sale.

Residents received a letter from Johnson explaining the sale the same day it was announced to the press.

The letter explained the management and operation of Lowry Grove has become increasingly demanding as the infrastructure -- the roads, as well as water, sewer and electric lines  -- has been aging. Some of it, Johnson said, is more than 70 years old. 

"The park no longer meets the standards of modern manufactured home communities," the letter said. 
Though Tomas isn't yet sure what her company will do with the land -- it has a year to figure it out -- she did confirm that it would no longer be a trailer park. 

"Continental Property Group is a developer, that's primarily what we do," said Tomas, "We're always looking for opportunities." 

One of those recent opportunities, she said, is the Hello Apartments development in Golden Valley. Tomas said the company will work with the city and residents to see what this development should look like -- one thing she said the site will not become is a big-box department store.

According to Tomas, the land was identified in St. Anthony's comprehensive plan as a site to be developed. Just what that means though, Johnson said, has not been determined. 

This is not the first time Lowry Grove has been in the spotlight. In 2009, the site made national news when 118 cats were found in and removed from a couple's trailer, while in 2014, 51-year-old park resident William Thomas Holt was shot and killed by police after he emerged from his mobile home with a rifle following an hours-long standoff.

St. Anthony Mayor Jerry Faust was not immediately available for comment on what the sale and future development might mean for the city. 
 
Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at @JPooleNews.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here