COURTLAND TOWNSHIP, MI –Brian Fannon believes he can attract aging baby boomers to the Oaks of Rockford, a manufactured housing community he is developing on the site of a failed mobile home park northeast of Rockford.
Fannon said the development is aimed at empty nesters who want to shed their traditional homes for an active community in which they can lower their living expenses. “The demographics seem to be working in our favor,” he said.“We think the timing is right for people of this age group,” said Fannon, a Novi resident who has partnered with Chicago area developers Ed Zeman and Dee Pizer of Zeman Homes and Neighborhoods and has more than 30 years of experience in manufactured housing developments.
Located at the former Courtland Crossings mobile home park at the northeast corner of M-57 and Ritchie Avenue, the Oaks of Rockford will begin with 150 home sites but could eventually grow to include up to 700 homes for residents 55 and older, said Fannon.
“The vision is to have people come in and buy a reasonable home with a reasonable lease,” said Fannon, who received his state licenses to begin marketing the home sites this week. He said he expects to sell about 50 home sites a year in the next three years.
Residents will be able to purchase their homes for $120,000-plus and rent their lot for $375 a month plus utilities on a lifetime lease. The lifetime lease guarantees the rental rates will not exceed 3 percent or the consumer price index.
The two-bedroom and three- bedroom homes are being built by an Ohio manufacturer and can include one-stall or two-stall attached garages, Fannon said. Residents can supply their own homes, provided they are new and meet the standards of the community, he said.
Ranging between 1,200 and 1,400 square feet, the 24-foot-wide homes feature front porches, shingled pitched roofs and nine-foot ceilings inside. Interior doorways are 36 inches wide for accessibility. The master suites include bathrooms and walk-in closets.
The homes also include laundries and Whirlpool kitchen appliances. Built on concrete slabs, the air-conditioned homes include two-by-six frame walls and are well-insulated, according to Fannon.
From his office in the unfurnished clubhouse, Fannon said the residents will determine which activities will be included in the community’s recreational program. That could mean tennis courts, bike trails or or golf leagues.
“It’s going to be a fun place to live,” he said. “We will be doing things with our residents.”
According to the rules, each household must have at least one resident who is 55 years old and no permanent resident can be younger than 40. Eighty percent of the development’s population must be 55 or older, Fannon said. The rules are allowed under the federal Housing for Older Persons Act, he said.
Age-restricted communities are commonplace in Florida and larger metropolitan areas, but none have been built in West Michigan in at least 30 years, Fannon said.
Fannon said they spent more than $1 million to revive the dormant community, which closed after the streets were paved and a water and sewer system were installed. They also had to rebuild parts of the clubhouse which had fallen into disrepair, he said.
The original development was developed by Landon Holdings, a Detroit area mobile home park developer which developed several mobile home parks in West Michigan.
When Courtland Crossings opened in 2003, it created controversy because residents feared a large mobile home community would overwhelm the Rockford School District. Those fears never materialized as the development foundered and was returned to its bankers.