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Canterbury Square Mobile Home Park goes condo

Residents celebrate the purchase of a park

George Scrimshaw

George Scrimshaw shared in the festivities as Canterbury Square's new owners, the former tenants, celebrated the new condominium. Scrimshaw is Woodinville's designated Don Quixote for his efforts in the "impossible dream:" saving the mobile home park residents from having to relocate.

celebratory cake

A celebratory cake marked the memorable occasion of Canterbury Square's purchase by its tenants.
Photos by Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly.

Canterbury Square by Jeff Switzer
In the building which had served as the base of operations for the effort to buy Woodinville's Canterbury Square Mobile Home park, residents celebrated the purchase of the park from Al and Donna DeYoung and the end of their worries.
   "They were thrilled when the reality suddenly hit them," said prime mover George Scrimshaw. "They were overwhelmed with pleasure."
   More than 150 people enjoyed the festivities at the Tack Shack in Woodinville as relieved and excited "condominium" residents--no longer tenants--whooped it up on Jan. 16. Signs declaring "By GEORGE we did it!" decorated the walls as park savior Scrimshaw, president of the Canterbury Criers Association and wearing a necktie reading "Don't give up the ship," was thanked by residents.
   "Our thanks for the 'impossible dream,' from your friends and neighbors at Canterbury Square," read the plaque presented to Scrimshaw for his inspirational leadership. "The meek shall inherit the earth."
   The 114-lot condominium's 171 residents, who no longer have to worry about moving, have an average age of 79 years old and have lived in the park an average of 15 years. "People tend to underestimate the determination of older people," Scrimshaw said earlier this month. "Everyone can recognize the virtue of people with a sole goal to achieve. The reward is in the accomplishment."
   Scrimshaw helped spearhead the campaign to buy the mobile home park. With the help of Seafirst Bank, Stewart Title Escrow, and King County Housing Authority, park residents were able to purchase Canterbury Square, paying about $40 per month more than they were paying for rent to the DeYoungs.
   The $7.6 million was divided by the 125 lots, and depending on size, lots went for $65,000, $65,500, and $67,500. Of the 125 lots, 114 were sold, and 11 are to be built in the future. King County Housing Authority helped with nine of the lots, providing down payment assistance on five and buying four outright and renting them.
   Seafirst's Community Development Commercial Division loaned the money to the tenants' association; the Consumer Division made individual loans to the tenants. Within the bank, the individual loans then paid for the loan to the tenants' association.
   "The challenge was to make sure enough people there were interested in buying and were qualified," said Dave Hardesty, who worked on the commercial end of things at Seafirst. "The teamwork confirmed that if folks get focused and team up in the right way, desire can really have an impact."
   The tenants were required to surrender the titles to their mobile homes in order to merge the homes with the real estate. "The residents created value by creating this condominium," Hardesty said. "(The park) was worth preserving, and we're happy we were able to participate in the process."
   Dave Bricklin took part in the legal side of things when the Canterbury Criers were dealing with a possible rezone of the property. He described the settlement as a win-win situation: the DeYoungs got their money and the residents kept their homes.
   "In my 20 years of practicing law, this was perhaps the most gratifying case I've ever had the pleasure of working on," Bricklin said. "Helping 200 well-deserving folks to buy their homes is a rare opportunity, and also learning from George Scrimshaw. "This is a very dedicated, level-headed group of people," he said.

Condominium residents said it best
   "I love it! I've waited a long time for this, but it was worth the wait!" said new owner Ruth Smith.
   "Quite a wonderful feeling to be out from under the yoke after all this time," said new owner Frank Schaeffer.
   "I've always felt so secure there," said new owner Mary Warner. "I got up to go to work the other day and couldn't find my keys and it turned out they were still in the door."
   Some residents said they still hadn't come down yet, others said they would believe it when they held the deeds.
   "I'm so thrilled, I don't know what to do!" said new owner Lynn Branin. "Somebody really sent George to us--he was a Godsend."
   Lynn Branin's son, Duff Branin, described his mother's hard work and dedication. "To see the glimmer of hope these people had then to where they are now is unbelievable," Branin said
   When asked how it felt to be a new owner, Ginger Buchanan, former president of the Canterbury Criers Association, said it couldn't be better. "Just wait until spring and this place will bloom," said Buchanan. "We knew it was right and went for it. If George hadn't been here... It's a new home and we don't even have to move!"
   "It's a relief not to have to find another place to live," said Peggy Gould.

The settlement with the DeYoungs
   The requisite $7.4 million was delivered to the DeYoungs by the Canterbury Criers Association four days early, on Jan. 12. The $200,000 in earnest money was handed over on Dec. 29, on time as well.
   The purchase agreement was reached between the DeYoungs and the Canterbury Criers Association during the summer of 1995. It stipulated that the residents could purchase the park if they could come up with the $7.6 million before the deadline.
   The agreement also dictates that the tenants not sell the park for five years. Once the five years has passed, the association can sell at any time; however, the residents must put the park on the market after 12 years, in 2008.
   At that time, the residents must have the property appraised at its highest and best use, as commercial land, in keeping with the DeYoungs' desire to have a thriving downtown retail core. Following the appraisal, the residents must put the park on the market for $10 million or the appraised value, whichever is higher, for three years' time. The residents have the option of having the property re-appraised after 1 1/2 years.
   The residents are required to sell if they receive an offer at the asking price within the three years; otherwise the sale requirement is waived.