Mobile home park residents are worried new apartments will push them out

Oakhaven Drive
Oakhaven Drive

A planned new development in Matthews has led to protests from the residents of a mobile home park that would be pushed out to make way for apartments.

Florida-based Bainbridge is planning to build up to 350 apartments off Independence Boulevard, near the intersection with Matthews-Mint Hill Road. The 30-acre site is partially wooded and partially occupied by a mobile home park on Oakhaven Drive, and lies on both sides of the planned future extension of the Northeast Parkway.

Site plans show four- and three-story apartment buildings, with almost 600 parking spaces, with amenities such as a clubhouse and a pool. Bainbridge is under contract on the site, and construction could begin in late summer 2018 – if Matthews commissioners approve the rezoning request that they’re scheduled to hear Monday.

There are about 24 mobile homes on the site, which has been used for mobile homes since the early 1960s, according to a report from Matthews town staff. Residents of those homes are worried about the cost to move houses, which could add up to thousands of dollars, and that some of the older houses won’t be able to be moved at all.

They’ve started a petition to pressure Matthews officials, which has so far gathered 119 signatures. If the rezoning is approved, they want to be compensated for the costs, which many say they can’t afford.

“In order to build these apartments, our families will have to move our homes,” the petition says. “Many of our homes are too old to move. We would have to leave them behind, losing all we have invested in them. The rest of us would have to pay thousands of dollars that we don’t have to move the homes that can be moved.”

Maria Gomez said she’s lived in the Oakhaven community for seven years. It’s a safe, tight-knit community she said, and her daughter is at Butler High School in Matthews. Other families there also moved in because of the high-quality schools, she said. They didn’t know a redevelopment was coming until they saw Matthews rezoning signs go up.

“We wanted the kids to go to good schools,” she said. Gomez said she pays $400 to lease her house’s site, and that she had to pay $20,000 when she moved in to hook up and set up the electrical, plumbing and other systems the house requires. She’s been told that moving the house will cost at least $5,000, before the costs of hooking it up to a new site. And that’s if she can find a new mobile home community nearby to move to at all.

“We’ve been looking, and there’s nothing,” she said. The land owner has offered $500 to cover moving costs, which is “kind of an insult,” she said.

An executive at Bainbridge said the company’s policy is not to comment on developments before breaking ground. An official listed with the landowner, a Charleston-based LLC, didn’t return a message seeking more information.

Bainbridge is also building apartments on South Boulevard along the light rail and planning hundreds more apartments in University City.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo