The last residents of Suni Sands Mobile Home Park left Thursday, ending years of controversy and opening up 10 prime acres of Jupiter Inlet property for development.
“I never imagined I would live in such a magical place like Suni Sands. My husband and I are going to get a pizza tonight and sit on the deck with another couple. One last night in paradise,” said Joyce Miller, a 15-year resident of the park.
Thursday was the deadline for the residents to leave the park, which once had 102 mobile homes and 14 recreation vehicles. Where residents said was once a thriving community now is empty concrete slabs and crumbling mobile homes.
The residents were evicted to make room for a Key West-style development proposed by Charles Modica, who paid about $16 million for the property in 2013.
Modica is renovating the boathouse on the Jupiter Inlet, which is planned to be a two-story building open to the public. He plans an inn and possibly retail/residential on the property. No plans have been submitted to the town.
Several Suni Sands residents unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit after the park was purchased. They alleged the sale should be voided because the residents were not given first refusal to buy the property.
The town turned down a plan in July to give up to $5,000 per unit to tenants still living in the park. The plan called for a one-time payment to residents who meet income and residence requirements.
Residents slowly have been leaving the park since Modica made his purchase.
Some towed away their mobile homes to another location. Others left their homes there to be demolished. Some signed a settlement agreement that allowed them to stay in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue the property owner. They got a $1,000 payment from Modica.
About four residents stayed until Thursday’s bitter end.
Park Manager Steve Burns sat in his pickup truck Thursday afternoon, helping residents move furniture and other items. Burns has managed the park for 17 years. His father was a maintenance man at Suni Sands.
“I grew up here. My kids worked here. This place is a part of me. The residents aren’t the only ones feeling the loss. I’m glad it’s over. It’s time to move on,” said Burns.
A fence will be placed around the property once all residents are gone, said Burns.
The park, which overlooks the Jupiter Inlet and the Jupiter Lighthouse, was a thriving community where all residents looked out for each other, said Miller. She and her husband left their mobile home in Suni Sands. They moved to Hobe Sound. They bought a mobile home that they are fixing up.
“We had all kinds of people in Suni Sands. We all got along. But that’s not where Jupiter is going. Regular people can’t live there anymore,” Miller said.