Chanin Dev Buying Boulder Mobile Home Park

Recent news is that the mobile home park, on land sometimes referred to as The Orchard Grove, is under contract to sell to local developer Chanin Development. The mobile home park covers about 30 acres at the northeast corner of Valmont and 30th street. It currently has about 215 units on the property and is managed by Orchard Court Development Co.

Orchard Grove includes a complex and varied mix of residents that include people from all walks of life. Some residents go back a couple generations. and it appears to be a very tight knit, and vibrant community.

While Jim Chanin, president of Chanin Development, confirmed to local media that his company plans to purchase the property, he declined to release any details and simply stated that Chanin Development is buying a fully occupied mobile home park.

Jim Chanin and I sat on the site selection committee at Flatirons Habitat For Humanity recently. My impression of Jim is that he’s a very smart and thoughtful professional. Jim has twenty years of diversified experience in the real estate industry encompassing land development, general contracting and home building. Prior to founding Chanin Development in 1993, Mr. Chanin worked for Centex Homes, Inc. for five years.

While we await the details about what Chanin Development plans for the future of this property, I’d imagine an elegant change to the area could be expected IF one is imminent. So far there are no confirmed plans for any changes to the Orchard Grove property that I’m aware of.

Here’s a quote from Jim’s bio on the Chanin website:

Mr. Chanin has extensive experience as a real estate principal, responsible for all of Chanin Development’s real estate related activities including finance, capital formation, land acquisition and management. Having worked with numerous municipalities in the processes of annexation, land planning, subdivision, entitlement, engineering, and development of infrastructure, Mr. Chanin is well versed in all aspects of land development.

Given that The Orchard Grove Land is within city limits and zoned for small lot redevelopment, including duplexes, townhouses, or triplexes, we could see some interesting new residential possibilities in what amounts to a prime area with its proximity to the Transit Village, Crossroads Commons Redevelopment and I’m sure the eventual redevelopment of the old Albertson’s facility on Iris between 28th and 30th. This is only speculation since nothing has been announced regarding any changes to the property.

There are six other mobile home parks around the Boulder area. One that I used to often bike through when I lived in Winding Trail Village in north Boulder is the Boulder Mobile Manor at 2637 Valmont Road. You can actually walk or bicycle from Valmont south through this area along trails and heavily wooded lots virtually all the way to downtown (well, about Folsom and Mapleton at least).

Even though Folsom St. has a bike lane, it was a much nicer route through the mobile home park. If you look at the Google map of this area, you’ll see it’s full of trees. Unlike the parts of town just east of 28th. On the same map, you’ll see that the Orchard Grove property also has lots of mature trees too. This should be a great location for some new residential infill development.

(Photo Credit: Greg Lefcourt)


22 Responses to “Chanin Dev Buying Boulder Mobile Home Park”

  1. Robert Spellman on June 3rd, 2008 3:34 am

    Your chirpy article about Chanin Development’s plans for Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park doesn’t mention that there are 215 households there – some of them for two generations or more. We are laborers, retirees, university professors, students, young families, mechanics, artists, school teachers, children, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Central America. While I’m sure Mr. Chanin’s plans will make exciting real estate news, they will permanently disrupt a large and colorful block of Boulder’s population.

  2. Carole Clements on June 3rd, 2008 5:13 am

    Dear Zachary,

    My name is Carole Clements and I am a 10-year resident of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park. I have never met Jim Chanin or yourself, but I am inclined to trust your characterization of him as “a smart and thoughtful professional.” However, his intent to displace a large number of Boulder residents from their middle class neighborhood is neither smart nor thoughtful.

    I also must say that I was struck by your use of the word “elegant.” It is a favorite word of mine and I know its meaning well. As a refresher, it means “combining simplicity, power and a certain ineffable grace.” If you lived at Orchard Grove you would know that a “change” is not needed to achieve a state of elegance. Residents of Orchard Grove have been living in such an environment for a long, long time.

    I invite you to visit our neighborhood, walk our streets, and meet the families, singles, elders and children who live here, in this close-knit ethnically diversse, vibrant community.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Carole Clements, Lot 237

  3. zachary epps on June 3rd, 2008 5:19 am

    Thanks for your comments. I’d love the opportunity to meet you and other residents of Orchard Grove.
    While a change might not be necessary or needed, I would hope that if one is imminent, that it would be elegant, given that Jim Chanin has shown care and compassion in the community from what I’ve seen.

    I hope to have the chance to learn more about Orchard Grove and look forward to meeting you.

  4. Mark Robbins on June 3rd, 2008 7:14 am

    I am a 26-year resident of Orchard Grove. I’m sure my neighbors will adress many of the issues, so I will touch on just a few.

    I met with Jim Chanin for an hour last week. I too have supported and contributed to Habitat for Humanity. I fail to see the logic or benefit in building a few homes for low-income people, then turning around and destroying the homes and dreams of 216 low, middle, and mixed-income homeowners, sending many into financial ruin.

    “Redevelopment” of the site will mean the destruction of at least $6 million in homeowner equity. Knowing that, can you continue to be sanguine about such a catastrophe? Jim’s assumption that the homeowners would be happy to move “out of their trailers” and into “affordable” multi-family housing is either cruelly cynical, or, more likely, just based on lack of understanding of the situation. People have tremendous pride in their homes, even when they cost under $100,000. How would YOU feel if a developer was successful in kicking you out of your single-family home… destroying all your equity… leveling your beautiful trees, yard and garden… and then offering you the “opportunity” to rent an apartment built upon the ruins of your former home and community?

    You also are missing the important details of why and how Orchard Grove (and its sister park Mapleton) escaped the 1985 rezoning to MH-E which applied to all the other mobile home parks in Boulder. The Nuttalls (park owners) escaped the rezoning ONLY because they signed an agreement with the city giving the city right of first refusal to match any developer’s offer within a year of said offer. So all the talk of Chanin redeveloping the park may just be a moot point. Chanin’s offer may just be a vehicle for the Nuttalls to reap the highest possible offering price, to be paid ultimately by the city.

    We are not sure whether the 1985 agreement with the Nuttalls is still in effect. If it is, then the above scenario is likely. If not… since the agreement was the quid pro quo for the city not rezoning Orchard Grove… and in fact was the ONLY thing stopping the rezoning… the absence of that agreement would remove the main obstacle to the city rezoning Orchard Grove to MH-E and putting the park under the same rules that apply to all the other parks in Boulder.

  5. Mark Robbins on June 3rd, 2008 7:27 am

    I would like to add one more thing. There is nothing wrong with Jim Chanin’s vision per se… IF it were applied to an empty parcel of land, or to the soon-to-be-vacated industrial land along Bluff St. (much closer to the train station). To completely wipe out an established mixed-income neighborhood and community in order to impose one’s vision of a different mixed-income community strikes me as utterly senseless and obscene.

  6. Ed on June 3rd, 2008 10:15 am

    I agree, there is nothing wrong with Jim Chanins’s idea and vision if applied on an empty land and space, or if we’re talking about a few mobile homes and/or a few families that are WILING to relocate.
    In this case we’re talking about 200+ households, families who are living here for a very, very long time, children being born here who don’t know of any other home and community but Orchard Grove, and most important fact about all this is that none of the residence, not even one household is wiling to relocate and loose their homes.
    Perhaps Mr. Chanin doesn’t know and doesn’t understand the definition of Ethnic Cleansing. A large population being forcibly, against their will displaced etc.
    Being from former Yugoslavia, and being forced to live my home and my community, I could give you a huge presentation on Ethnic Cleansing Mr. Zachary, and perhaps what Mr. Chanin has in plan with the residents of Orchard Grove, in my opinion it almost qualifies as an Ethnic Cleansing. I never thought I’d have to go through that nightmare again, especially not in USA. It’s sad that we, Americans are trying to bring and promote freedom to the rest of the world, where that same freedom perhaps may not even exists here at home.

  7. Ava B. Goodheart on June 3rd, 2008 7:20 am

    I have been a homeowner in Orchard Grove since 1998, a resident of Boulder since 1986, and an administrative assistant at CU Boulder since 1987. Before buying my little home in Orchard Grove I rented in several very nice neighborhoods in Boulder, but I never really felt like I had roots here until I started living in Orchard Grove. Developers may look at Orchard Grove and see beautiful trees in a prime location – I appreciate the trees and the convenient location too, but more than that I appreciate my neighbors and the community we have here. This remarkably diverse community has grown up naturally – people of all ages, ethnic groups, income levels, and political beliefs are living in harmony here – we know our neighbors and we feel safe in every part of the park. The Orchard Grove community is like a beautiful old growth tree that slowly expands its branches, providing shelter for many creatures. What value system justifies uprooting this tree?

  8. Anne Parker on June 3rd, 2008 3:44 pm

    Wow this article touts the realestate purchaser and makes NO effort to find wh the people of Orchard Grove are or how they will be affected. Many of my fellow academic colleagues live in Orchard Grove. There are many families there as well. We teach, own busnunessess and work in Boulder. We live there becausue Boulder is too expensive for even what would be middle class incomes in many other parts of the coutry. Rendering our personal iventsments worthless will make us impoverished and cripple a huge chunk of the work force of Boulder. Boulder will just become a playground for trust funders. I feel that your article was quite mindless and insensitive to the several hundred people who live in Orchard Grove and own their own houses there.

  9. Anne Parker on June 3rd, 2008 4:02 pm

    I am pleased to read the comments of my fellow neighbors from Orchard Grove. I feel it would be a disaster to me personally and to the several hundred people fo Orchard Grove to have our personal life investments renbered valuleless in the redeveloping of the trailer park. We are long term residents of Boulder who contribute to the local ecomony by teaching, owning buisnesses, working in a variety of local businesses and contributing to the life of Boulder. Many of us have incomes that would allow us a middle class life style in some other part of the country but, given the cost of life in Boulder, this is our option for housing. Your article felt unbalanced in its praise of one man who will profit from the impoverishment of hundreds of other citizens of Boulder.

  10. Ellen Napodano on June 3rd, 2008 4:25 pm

    I very much appreciate the fact that I can afford living in Boulder, in such a beautiful park. If it is sold and redeveloped, over 200 low income families would be with out a beautiful affordable place to call home.

    Please check your humanity, allow low income people to still live in boulder, lets not make this another NYC only for the rich. Have a heart, and not just a pocketbook.

  11. Kathleen Spellman on June 3rd, 2008 4:46 pm

    I have lived at Orchard Grove for 11 years and am distressed at the current trend to “improve” this place while bankrupting and displacing its current residents. Boulder does not need another condominium “cash cow,” Orchard Grove is a very diversified community and one of the few places in this town where such a thing exists. This community should be protected, not destroyed.

  12. Gary Allen on June 3rd, 2008 4:55 pm

    You’re article, as others have observed above, doesn’t voice the slightest interest in the people who actually live here & eke out their existence in Boulder. These are our homes. What benefits Mr. Chanin does not benefit any of us whose homes will be lost and lives disrupted, creating yet another set of high rents or expensive condos, “elegant” though they may be.

  13. Dick Williams on June 3rd, 2008 5:27 pm

    We chose Orchard Grove for our retirement home about seven years ago, using a substantial portion of our retirement savings to purchase our mobile home and improve the grounds around it. We calculated how much we should be able to live on during our retirement and found that Orchard Grove would allow us to live within our means, as retirees on a fixed income. I doubt if any developer could make a huge proft and still replace our investment, provide affordable housing, and even begin to compensate us for destroying this community that we have become very fond of. Redeveloping an already populated area is about making a huge profit on a small leveraged investment at the expense of the residents who have access to few resources. Regardless of what the unprincipled developers would have us believe, it is definitely not about beautifying and improving the lifestyle of the residents. Rather, what we have here is a pure example of exploitative absentee landlordism, very much like what I saw when I was serving as a United Methodist pastor iin the Bronx, New York, during “urban renewal ( removal).” Developers would “beautify” the area with substandard construction and inflated rent, but the religious communities were left with the task of relocating and supporting displaced people. The whole idea of redeveloping Orchard Grove seems totally unnecessary, if not downright immoral.

    Dick Williams, Lot #78

  14. Greta Thompson on June 3rd, 2008 5:46 pm

    I have been living in Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park for five years. Although I benifit from the ability to walk to work and afford my own place, in an extravagant city, I am here to speak for the animals. My yard has been host to a deer giving birth. I eat my dinner looking out my window watching deer nibbling my roses, I’m sure many selflishly grow these and tulips for them. It is magical watching their necks reach up to the apples that this orchard supplies. I watch mothers teach thier fawn how to jump the fences, I hear thier loud squawk, let this be a place for them to have a voice. They bed in the shade, they poop in the grass. I’ve seen two generations of twin fawns grow up together. They come to stay in my yard, then they are on thier own without their Mother, they need this land, undisturbed too.

  15. Ruth Waukau on June 3rd, 2008 7:37 pm

    I feel as most of those who have commented; this has been my affordable housing for over 15 years, and the thought that someone might come in and sell our land, thus our homes without a significant plan is abhorrant.
    Zach, you point out that Mr Chanin has not said anything about displacing anyone for redevelopment.
    I would ask that he sign a contract that will maintain the mobile home park into perpetuity. And, continuing to make this an affordable place to live. AFter all, it is my understanding that the present income from our lots is close to $100,000. each month

  16. lucia Francis on June 3rd, 2008 8:02 pm

    I am absolutelty appaled at this latest piece of news.
    I think we need to learn something from Europe and just LET THINGS BE as far as development.
    I am so tired of this american philosophy of constantly tearing down, changing developing, buiding and so called “improving”
    My mother was a resident here for 6 years, before myself and my family moved in 2 years ago. We have lots of memories here.
    As a young family of 4 struggling to survive in Boulders horrendously expensive housing and everything else market, we would surely be forced to leave town.
    A sad thought as my family is from Boulder from 4 generations back, my granfather started the italian dept. at cu.uboulder, and we feel proud to live here
    My hopes ae that this area can be zoned as a trailor park only, and we can all just be left alone!!
    thank you

  17. Sadeta and Jasmin Mahic on June 3rd, 2008 11:37 pm

    We were really shocked when we heard the news about Orchard Grove Park being sold. We have lived here for eleven years now. Originally we moved to the United States from Bosnia because of the war in ’92 and we have lived here in Orchard Grove ever since. We are really concerned about this issue because this has always been a very beautiful and peaceful park, with great neighbors, and great wildlife and all that is going to be taken away with the blink of eye. We had lost everything after the war and now it feels like the same thing is happening again. We’re loosing our home and our great neighbors, our beautiful yard and everything else that has made this a wonderful place to live. Another prominent concern that comes to mind is that we are to be relocated to Denver. It is easy to sumise that we have come to love the city of Boulder, having lived here for as long as we have. This decision is demeaning to all of the residents, in that we are being treated like despendable ascets that can be thrown out of the city without any disregard for how we are going to live, what we are going to do, and most importantly everything that we will lose in the process of relocation. I hope that you will read this and have some sympathy for the hundreds of people that this will effect in the long run, and in turn hopefully take great consideration in this drastic decision before any conclusions have been made.

  18. Mark Robbins on June 4th, 2008 7:03 am

    This is in response to Zachary who noted that Chanin Development has not issued any formal statement about redevelopment plans:

    I was the first Orchard Grove resident to contact Jim Chanin after the BCBR article came out. We met at his office for nearly an hour on Tuesday, May 27. He was quite open and frank about his plans, in fact, he was eager to present his plans to the homeowners under the assumption that he would be offering them a much better living situation than they are in now.

    Everything I have communicated about Chanin’s plans are based on what he told me directly. Further: if you check with the city planning and zoning people, you will find that Chanin Development has already filed a preliminary proposal for redevelopment.

    Further: I have learned from sources (not Chanin) that Chanin Development offered $15 million for the Orchard Grove property. With the likely addition of millions more that the city may require for infrastructure (water, sewer, etc.) improvements, there is no way that he could profitably operate Orchard Grove as a mobile home park at that purchase price. Based on the metrics out there for valuing mobile home parks (such as price-per-lot, capitalization rate, etc.), Orchard Grove would fetch somewhere between $5 and $8 million if sold as a mobile home park to a mobile home park investor/operator.

    For these and other reasons, it’s clear to me that Orchard Grove was marketed to potential buyers not as a mobile home park, but rather, as developable land that happened to have some mobile homes on it.

  19. Mark Robbins on June 4th, 2008 7:15 am

    I apologize for referring to Jim Chanin’s “vision” without even describing what I know of it. He should really be presenting the case for it, but based on what he told me, he envisions a mixed-income community of market-rate and affordable townhomes, duplexes, four-plexes, etc. He didn’t specify whether these would be rental or for sale. When the redevelopment is finished there will be no mobile homes left on the property.

  20. jeffry buechler on June 4th, 2008 7:17 am

    As a 5-year resident of Orchard Grove, I have a deepening appreciation of this great community. I have the following to add to my neighbors’ comments:

    One of my neighbors, who treats me like family, said that had it not been for Orchard Grove’s affordability, her family would have been on the streets years ago.

    Hers is but one of many stories of how dearly residents of OG value their homes/lives in this community.

    I hope that all concerned parties can find the way to a positive solution. There are so many possibilities. Given our imagination and our combined resources and efforts, we should craft a future for OG that respects the value so many have for it.

    I believe that our concerns for OG are not only for ourselves, but for our larger community of the City of Boulder, and indeed beyond.

  21. itom phillips on August 16th, 2010 8:06 am

    I knew a gentleman that lived there for 20 – plus years. (Hi AVA! ) . I will attest that Orchard Grove is a very low-key, tight knit community of a lot of wonderful people. I never saw anything out of control, or needing police supervision beyond the occasional normal mishap. If O.G. is “redeveloped”. where will people go? Some of the other parks in the area have a notoriously high incident of crime …
    So, someone will make money, and then problems will multiply exponentially outward as it always does.
    Why not just make it illegal for people to be poor in Boulder?

  22. NepeApperoMit on April 13th, 2011 9:44 pm

    Interesting article and one which should be more widely known about in my view. Your level of detail is good and the clarity of writing is excellent. I have bookmarked it for you so that others will be able to see what you have to say.

Got something to say?