Editor's note: The following correction was issued for this report. In Sunday’s story on new student-oriented housing on the site of the Arrowhead Village trailer park, comments by Andrew Young of Landmark Properties were not meant to imply any endorsement of or connection between NAU and the project.
A developer that specializes in student housing across the country has properties under contract and has filed a rezoning application with the city on one of the project parcels, Arrowhead Village trailer park.
The project, if approved by the city of Flagstaff, would mean the residents of Arrowhead Village would have to move out of the park and the trailers would have to go.
Vice Mayor Coral Evans said she attended the La Plaza Vieja Neighborhood Association meeting Wednesday at the Fire Station McCraken Building, at which the proposed developer, Landmark Properties, discussed its project plans to residents.
Evans said Arrowhead Village trailer park has been identified by the city as part of its Housing Urban Development (HUD) consolidated plan.
“The residents of this neighborhood are low-income, one of the most challenged, most impoverished, most in need in the city,” Evans said. “For this to happen to them tells you this could happen anywhere.”
The 56 trailers in the park are too old to move anywhere else, according to the residents. Some trailers are 40 years old and would fall apart if they were moved.
Even if the trailers could be moved, the city does not allow replacement trailers in parks or expansion of the parks.
The residents own the trailers in which they live, with one exception. The park property management company representative did not want to comment.
Many of the residents say they have made improvements to the trailers because they expected to stay there.
Roberto Soto and his family are residents of the park. Soto said he has lived in his trailer since 1992 or 1993. Soto has six young children.
“We’re not going to have a place to move to if we have to lose our trailer,” Soto said.
Another park resident, Edilburto Alvarez, said he bought his trailer a year ago.
“To rent an apartment would cost about $1,000 a month, including all the bills,” Alvarez said. “That’s a lot of money.”
Several residents did not want to give their name or did not speak English when asked to comment by the Arizona Daily Sun.
PROPERTIES UNDER CONTRACT
Andrew Young, senior vice president of development for Landmark Properties, an Athens, Ga., real estate firm, said the proposed project involves four parcels along Route 66 and Blackbird Roost, not including O’Reilly Auto Parts and Budget Host Inn Saga.
“We have properties under contract,” Young said.
Flagstaff City Planning Director Mark Sawyers said the project involves 6.73 acres. The applicant, Landmark Properties, is asking the city to approve a change in zoning at the trailer park from Manufactured Homes to Highway Commercial.
Sawyers said the applicant has some way to go in the process and still has to hold one more neighborhood meeting; get a recommendation from the city Planning and Zoning Commission, which involves a public hearing; and get approval from the city council after the council holds a public meeting. And, the applicant still has to complete its impact analysis on traffic, water, sewer and drainage.
“The process would take at least two months,” Sawyer estimated.
Young said he did not want to comment on the trailer park part of the proposed project, but he said: “Our intent is to build a multifamily project targeted toward Northern Arizona University students (housing) ... We are excited about the market.”
Young said the developer wants to build two multistory buildings of varying heights.
CLOCK TO START DEC. 26
Evans said about 75 people attended the community meeting Wednesday - most were residents of the trailer park. She said the developer’s representatives talked about the apartment complex and its proximity to the university, but only mentioned the trailer park when asked directly.
Evans said one of the park residents said, “I don’t see the trailer park on the plans.”
The developer’s representatives then said in essence, according to Evans, “By the way, we are buying the trailer park and the trailers will no longer be there.”
Evans said one of the developer’s representatives at the meeting said he thought they could get everything done and be able to issue a notice to the park residents by Dec. 26 that they must vacate in 180 days.
“I was horrified that they would give someone that type of notice the day after Christmas,” Evans said. “I was horrified at the delivery that they spent the majority of the time selling the project to people who could never afford it.”
Evans said the developer’s representative said they would offer each resident about $3,500 in relocation expenses.
This is usually not enough for a first and last month’s rent and security deposit in Flagstaff.
Kevin Lindsay, owner of AAMCO Transmissions in Flagstaff, said a representative of Landmark Properties took him to dinner, offered to buy him out of his lease on Route 66 (part of the parcel the project wants to redevelop), and give him assistance in relocating.
Lindsay said he counter-offered and the agreement was struck between them.
“The agreement says Landmark is going to pay me an agreed amount at the time of closing.”
He said he is happy to have moved to another location in Flagstaff.
“In my opinion that development for me is a plus,” he said.
SECOND MEETING SET
Jesse Dominguez, president of the La Plaza Vieja Neighborhood Association where the trailer park is located, said a second neighborhood meeting will be held on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Woodlands Hotel.
“I feel for the sensitivity of the people being displaced,” Dominguez said. “They are low income; this is where they live; this is all they’ve got.”
Councilmember Celia Barotz said: “The city council does not know anything about this (project) officially. Based on information now out in the community as a result of the meeting,” her concerns are that these park residents are taken care of.
She said she wants to hear all the information from the developer and all parties, but sees as her “responsibility” to make sure the parks’ residents are heard in the process.