LACONIA — The residents of Briarcrest Estates, organized as the Lakemont Cooperative, Inc., have purchased the manufacturing housing from its owners Mark and Ruth Mooney for $10-million in a transaction that closed yesterday in Concord.
The acquisition was financed by TD Bank, which underwrote 80-percent of the purchase price, with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund lending the balance. The manufactured housing park became the 108th in the state to convert to cooperative ownership with assistance and funding from the Community Loan Fund since 1984 when residents in Meredith purchased their park.
With 241 units, Briarcrest is the third largest cooperatively owned in the state.
Last July the Mooneys accepted a $10 million offer from Hometown America. But, 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, but in January withdrew their suit.
"That was the turning point," said Jim Cowan, president of the Lakemont Cooperative.
"I was very doubtful about a positive outcome," said Joe McCarthy, secretary of the cooperative. "The board was met with some pretty stiff resistance from other residents and the owner, but with determination and persistence we stuck together and prevailed. I rank the experience of the last eight months as one of the most gratifying achievements in my seven decades on this planet," he continued, thanking his fellow board members and the Community Loan Fund for their support and assistance throughout the process.
Cowan said that seven members of the board of the cooperative will be elected at the annual meeting in June. Four members will be elected for two-terms and three for one-terms in order to ensure an experienced quorum. He said that he intends to seek re-election as president.
As a cooperatively owned park, residents own not only the building they live in but also the land it sits on, which provides them with the common benefits of home ownership, including conventional mortgage terms, appreciation in value and access to equity loans. At the same time, they are protected against excessive increases in rents as well as the sale closure of the park, said Community Loan Fund officials