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St. Petersburg mobile home park’s new owner says there are no plans for change

Margie Manning

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Conner's Mobile Home Park at 2701 34th St. N. will be renamed Pelican Palms Village.

One of the larger mobile home parks in St. Petersburg has a new owner.

But unlike other area mobile home communities that have been acquired for redevelopment projects, Legacy Communities has no plans redevelop the property it just acquired, Conner’s Mobile Home Park at 2701 34th St. N.

“We’re not redevelopers,” Andrew Fells, chief operating officer at Legacy Communities, told the St. Pete Catalyst. “We plan to continue to operate it as a manufactured housing community. It’s what we’ve been doing for 20-plus years.”

Conner’s Mobile Home Park, an age-restricted 55+ community with about 286 mobile home sites, sold Feb. 14 for $16.8 million, a deed filed with Pinellas County shows. The buyer, Legacy PIII Pelican LLC, took out a $13.4 million mortgage on the property that same day with with Walker & Dunlop, a Bethesda, Maryland-based commercial real estate finance firm.

Legacy PIII Pelican LLC is a joint venture between Legacy Communities and PGIM Real Estate, a person familiar with the deal said. PGIM Real Estate is the real estate investment manager for Prudential Financials’ PGIM asset management business. The address listed on Legacy PIII Pelican’s deed and mortgage documents is that of PGIM Real Estate.

Legacy Communities, headquartered in Sebring, Florida, owns and operates 21 mobile home communities and RV resorts around the United States. About half of them are in Florida. The Conner’s property is Legacy Communities’ first acquisition in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area.

Legacy’s purchasing decisions mostly focus on specific properties instead of market presence, Fells said. “It’s not necessarily a specific market we look for. It’s a community we see that we like and that we are comfortable operating for the foreseeable future.”

Legacy generally updates the common areas and amenities at the properties it acquires, and it plans to do so at the Conner’s property, although Fells didn’t want to be specific about what was in store. He planned to meet with residents Wednesday to introduce the company to them.

Legacy also is changing the name of the property to Pelican Palms Village.

A handful of other mobile home parks in St. Petersburg also have sold recently, and in at least some of the cases the new owner plans to redevelop the property. Most recently, Belleaire Development Group said it would build a new multi-family residential development at the site of the former Lamplight Village mobile home park at 8700 4th St. N.

Nationally, mobile homes communities have become an increasingly popular tool for real estate managers to earn returns, according to a recent report in Pensions&Investments.

After converting mobile home parks to institutional ownership, they can make improvements, increase income by raising rents and create portfolios that can be sold or spun off into real estate investment trusts, the report said.

Those rent hikes have struck a nerve with many residents, who are living in the mobile home parks in part because they offer affordable housing.

PGIM Real Estate, which has been investing in the sector for a couple of years in partnerships with operators, generally maintains below-market rates, Lee Menifee, managing director and head of Americas investment research at the firm, told Pensions&Investments.

“We are mindful that manufactured housing communities are a source of affordable housing and it is our intent to maintain them as affordable,” Menifee said.

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