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ARCHIVED  June 1, 1997

Modular-home projects vie for affordable-housing niche

Modular or manufactured homes may not be everyone’s dream, but proponents argue that the pre-assembled units fill an affordable-housing niche, desperately needed in many communities.

Although not all city officials look upon these developments favorably, others say it is one of the few solutions to affordable housing. More and more modular homes and developments are springing up, and sales figures are impressive.

Northview, a new manufactured home development on Fourth Street and 35th Avenue in Greeley, has 146 lots on 37.7 acres and more than 30 homes either built or under construction.

“The city is receptive to these developments, because there is a shortage of low and moderately priced housing in Greeley,´ said Leonard Wiest, Greeley assistant city manager. “We have heard from ConAgra that they are hiring people who come here from other places and have to live in their cars because they can’t afford housing.”

The construction industry is not always receptive to modular homes, he said, because they would prefer to build larger, more-expensive homes.

The homes in Northview range in price from $39,900 to $75,250, without a garage, to $52,343 to $83,520 with a garage. These prices do not include the price of the lot. Lots are about 6,500 square feet, and the homes range in size from 1,040 to 1,822 square feet.

Northview is unique as a modular-home subdivision because the homeowners also own the lots. In most modular-home parks, the lot is leased, the same as it would be in a trailer park.

Harold Weisberg, with Northstar Homes Inc., one of the modular-home dealers at Northview, said his company is selling homes from the mid $70,000 range and up.

“These homes can go as high as people want, because we customize the homes with garages and anything else people want,” he said, adding that about one-third of the lots are under contract and homes sales are brisk.

“People who might otherwise never be able to own a home can buy one of these homes,” he said.

Northview was developed by Northview LLC, with Pat Roche, owner of Roche Constructors Inc. in Greeley, as the manager. All the lots in Northview were sold to modular-home dealers who are now selling the lots and homes as a package.

“These homes are all set on foundations, so they are permanent homes, not mobile homes, and they have to comply with all the city standards,” Wiest said.

People will take better care of homes that they own, and there is no visible difference between the homes in Northview and other subdivisions, he added.

“The theory is that if you own your home you will take care of it,” Wiest said. “On the east side of town, we have a stick-built home subdivision called Parkview, and these are also low-cost homes. If you drove through the two subdivisions, you could not tell the difference. There are some other proposals for low-cost housing in Greeley.”

Not everyone is enamored by the prospect of more manufactured homes in Northern Colorado. Some county officials say these projects invite problems down the road.

“I don’t go after those (modular development) types of projects,´ said Bill Argo, president of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership Inc. “I think you are creating future slums.”

Argo added that it created a false economy.

“Three or four different companies tried to build some of those (modular) projects in Fort Lupton, and none have succeeded there. They all fell through,” he said.

In order to ensure the success of modular-home developments, some developers have retained ownership and maintenance of the land and just sell the homes, not the lots. In these developments, the home owners are assessed a fee each month for the lot and the grounds.

At LongView, on County Road 31/2 and Colorado Highway 119, McStain Enterprises Inc. of Boulder is building more than 400 modular homes on an 80-acre site in Weld County.

In this development, homes range from $49,900 to more than $100,000 if people want to load the house with many extras. The land lease ranges from $295 to $385 per month. The lease fees cover the homeowners’ property taxes, maintenance of the grounds, which includes a swimming pool, 13 acres of bike and walking trails, a lodge for parties, a park system with a pond and irrigation.

The development and grounds are not yet completed, but 76 homes are occupied, and 12 more are on order.

“We have seven or eight floor plans,´ said Mike Parker, a sales representative at LongView. “The homes range from 940 to 1,813 square feet. These homes are built by Fleetwood Homes in Idaho, but the homes were designed by the McStain design department. The first five homes were designed by McStain, and now we have two other designs by Fleetwood. We continue to look for new designs.”

The sales office opened at LongView in October 1995 for presales, and the grand opening was held in July 1996 when the lodge was completed.

Another big selling point for modular homes is the quick turnaround time.

“I’ve sold 12 homes since the first of the year,” Parker said. “We have a 14-week turnaround from start to finish. We have 12 to 18 homes to choose from on site, and we generate a lot of homes that way. We have those homes on lots, and we have picked out colors, carpets, etc. We are very pro customer satisfaction. We have a 98 percent customer satisfaction rate from a company we hired to survey our customers – we are very proud of that.”

Parker said that about 10 percent of the homes are sold to customers from Longmont, and the rest to buyers from up and down the Front Range, Denver to Fort Collins, or from out of state.

LongView has covenants, which control the look of the community.

“We tried to lay out some rules so everyone respects the community, but we don’t want to run people’s lives,” Parker said.

Modular or manufactured homes may not be everyone’s dream, but proponents argue that the pre-assembled units fill an affordable-housing niche, desperately needed in many communities.

Although not all city officials look upon these developments favorably, others say it is one of the few solutions to affordable housing. More and more modular homes and developments are springing up, and sales figures are impressive.

Northview, a new manufactured home development on Fourth Street and 35th Avenue in Greeley, has 146 lots on 37.7 acres and more than 30 homes either built or under construction.

“The city is receptive to these developments, because there is a…

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