March 22, 1999
DUVALL--The Depot Village Mobile Home Park is a cozy glen of a place, with 25 homes situated alongside the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. It got its name from the adjacent historic railroad depot, that welcomed immigrants to the town in the early part of the century.
Owner Ray Burhen built the park about 20 years ago and, with his wife Tove, has done the day-to-day maintenance. But now the couple want to retire and have put the park up for sale. They say they would like to sell the park to the homeowners and gave notice on August 15 of last year, with a deadline of August 15 of this year. If the homeowners are not able to buy the park by then, the park will be closed and the property sold.
The site is zoned for mixed commercial and residential development, allowing 16 units per usable acre. But the homeowners say the asking price of $1.4 million is too much, and even a government non-profit agency that buys parks and owns them for the homeowners says the price for them is out of the ballpark. The $1 million offered by the agency in January was turned down.
However, Tove Burhen said they are willing to negotiate on the price, but the deadline still stands. She said they delayed giving the closure notice until the homeowners had organized, and encouraged them to buy it.
"The tenants are increasingly upset that nothing is working out, and I don't blame them," Burhen said. "But they don't seem to be getting their package together. We still haven't put it up for sale to development."
She said she and Ray spent two years visiting the state legislature trying to get regulations changed so new parks could be built, to no avail. "We wish the homeowners could buy it and run it as a co-op," Burhen said. "When Ray built it, he thought it would always be a park, but the problem is the rents are too low to sell to a commercial mobile home park buyer. The rents just wouldn't pay for the monthly expenses and interest on a loan. The truth is we have to retire. We even offered the tenants early on we could keep the park if they would manage it in a cooperative way."
The homeowners have been working on the problem, said Frank Conrad, who has lived at the park with his wife, Sally, for five years. Right now they are placing their hopes with George Scrimshaw, who spearheaded the successful effort to save Canterbury Square Mobile Home Park in Woodinville several years ago. Canterbury Square was slated to be developed, but instead, the homeowners purchased it. Conrad said Scrimshaw plans to meet with the homeowners.
"Scrimshaw said he had some creative financing ideas," Conrad said. "This park is a dream haven. We are making a cry for help here."