ALDEN, NY — When traditional infill methods didn’t produce the results they wanted, residents of Marilla Country Village decided to get creative.
With 11 vacant sites to fill, the ROC will be purchasing homes themselves to place on the site and market to prospective Members. The project is being funded by savings from past operating budgets that’s been put aside for plans like this, meaning there won’t be any additional costs for the Members.
“When we sell the first home, we’re going to put that money into the next,” said Dennis Jakubowski, President of the democratically elected Board of Directors for the ROC.
The first home has already been purchased through McLaughlin Homes, Inc., a New York-based manufactured home seller. Marilla Country Village Board Members chose the Tru Homes “the Glory” model, a three bedroom, two bath floor plan with more than 1,000 square feet of space. The $33,900 home is in the process of being built, with customizations based on the Board’s requests, and is expected to be installed sometime this spring.
Tru Homes are a product of Clayton Homes, the largest manufactured home builder in the US.
Jakubowski said they will be using homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the vacant sites, as that’s what people have tended to show interest in previously. As a mixed community, full of those looking to either buy their first home or downsize, he said they determined this floor plan would cater to the largest audience.
However, Jakubowski said homeowners can still pick a different home to bring in if they find a model they prefer.
“It seems like we have a lot of people who are downsizing,” he said. “At least when they come on site, they have something to look at. This way, we’re covering everybody.”
The plan is to use this infill strategy for at least four of the vacant sites. Once those are filled, they’ll then circle back to see if they want to continue with the infill or tackle another project, like installing a new community center and storm shelter.
“We figured it would be better to get the lots filled,” Jakubowski said.
The Membership has been on board for the project as well. The Board talked with the Membership throughout much of the planning process.
“Everybody’s asking, ‘When is it going to be here?’,” he said. “Everybody’s proud of it, everybody’s excited.”
Molly Snell-Larch, the Cooperative Housing Specialist for PathStone Corporation who works with the ROC, said she’s proud of all the diligent work the community put into this plan to solve their infill issues.
“This was their idea and they were really thinking creatively,” she said. “For them to have such a holistic view of their finances and to have such foresight into what they want for their community, it’s just great to see.”
For those interested in starting the project in their own community, Jakubowski said it takes “a little bit of paperwork and a little time to get what you need”, but it’s worth it.
“It’s going to be a showpiece everybody’s proud of,” he said.
Marilla Country Village residents purchased their neighborhood in Dec. 2011 after years of rent increases and no improvements. Owning their community and taking control of their destiny was one of the best decisions Jakubowski and his neighbors have ever made, he said.
“We’ve raised our site fees just $10 since we purchased the community in 2011, and in that time, the co-op has invested more than $250,000 in improvements, including new roads that look great,” he said.
This isn’t the only project the group plans to tackle in the next few months. The ROC was also a recipient of the one-time Rebranding Grant from the ROC Association Directors. The grant money was awarded to nine ROCs across the network to help fund projects meant to combat the stigma associated with manufactured housing. Marilla Country Village will be using their grant to replace the signs at the entrances of their neighborhood to reflect the name they chose when they became resident owned.