Mooneys agree to sell Briarcrest Estates to cooperative

LACONIA — With the decision of Mark and Ruth Mooney, the owners of Briarcrest Estates, to enter a purchase and sales agreement to sell the manufacturing housing park to the Lakemont Cooperative for $10 million the struggle over the future ownership of the park appears to be nearing an end.

Attorney John Giere, representing the Mooneys, confirmed yesterday that the owners reached agreement with the cooperative on January 8, contingent on on the completion of due diligence and the arrangement of appropriate financing.

Jim Cowan, president of the cooperative said "we're on an express train and heading into the station," adding that he expected the transaction would close in late March or early April. The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which has facilitated the conversion of more than 100 manufactured housing parks from commercial to cooperative ownership, is shepherding the cooperative through the transaction.

In July the Mooneys accepted a $10 million offer from Hometown America. State law requires park owners, upon receiving an offer, to "consider any offer received from the tenants or a tenants' association" and to "negotiate in good faith with the tenants concerning a potential purchase." Tenants representing a minority of the 241 units formed the Lakemont Cooperative and presented a matching offer, The Mooneys, with the support of a majority of tenants who prefer commercial to cooperative ownership, asked the Belknap County Superior Court to approve the sale to Hometown America. The cooperative challenged the maneuver and the case is still pending.

Giere said that the litigation has been continued with the agreement of both parties and would be withdrawn when the transaction closes. He noted that Hometown America, which also has a purchase and sales agreement with the Mooneys, is "on the sidelines", apparently prepared to pursue its offer should the deal with the cooperative go awry.