It’s getting to be an old story in Jupiter.
Developer buys mobile home park. Residents complain they can’t afford to leave or don’t want to move. Developer moves ahead with the plan.
It looks like another round is set for Bell’s Mobile Home Park on the east side of Alternate A1A, just south of Center Street.
The two-acre park, with prime waterway access to the Jupiter Inlet, has been purchased for about $1.8 million by Bjarne Borg, co-founder of the Stockholm-based Index International AB, an international entrepreneurial company which has an office in Jupiter. The native of Sweden also owns two adjacent acres to Bell’s.
Borg, a Jupiter resident, is a partner in 1000 North, the restaurant under construction nearby on the Loxahatchee River that is partially owned by NBA star Michael Jordan. Borg also owns the property.
Borg plans a low-scale development on the Bell’s property. No plans have been submitted to Jupiter.
“I’m looking at some restaurants. With some affordable multi-family housing. I want to keep that historical, casual, fishing atmosphere in the neighborhood,” Borg said.
The current commercial zoning allows for buildings up to 50 feet tall. Office, retail, medical, restaurant, museums and nurseries are allowed. A maximum of three living units, which would have to be above the ground floor, would be allowed.
Town approval of a special exception would be required for shopping center, hotel, convenience store, fast-food restaurant or timesharing units. Special exception would also be required for more residential units, according to Jupiter records.
A dense commercial development on the Bell’s property — it’s about the same size as the Love Street parcel on A1A — isn’t going to happen, said Ira Fenton, a partner and 1000 North who knows Borg and his family.
“(Borg) wants a project that will fit the community. He has a passion and commitment for this area,” said Fenton.
A developer buying the Bell’s property was just a matter of time, said Mary Hinton, mayor of Jupiter from 1980-1990. The waterfront location of the property and adjacent dozen boat slips, along with its commercial zoning and proximity to nearby parks and beaches, put Bell’s in the bulls-eye for developers, she said.
“I bet we had 10 site plans come through while I was mayor. But the developers would back off once they found out how stringent our rules were,” Hinton said.
Those few residents still living in the park aren’t happy to hear that they will soon must move.
John Zink, a retired firefighter from East Orange, N.J., says park residents will be shocked at the cost when they go out to find another place to live. Like the other residents who own their mobile homes, Zink pays $415 per month for utilities and upkeep of the property.
Once a bustling 40-unit park full of families with children who played outside and boat owners who docked an the nearby canal, Bell’s is a shell of its former self. Most of the lots are either empty concrete slabs or the mobile homes are abandoned. About half of the units are occupied.
Bicycles, grills, fishing gear, motorcycles and lawn furniture are scattered outside. The only sounds are the hum from air conditioners and voices from televisions inside the mobile homes turned up loud.
“I knew everybody when I first moved here 20 years ago. Everybody was always outside. Now, I don’t know hardly anyone,” said Zink, 82, sitting in a lawn chair outside his mobile home.
Zink is one of the few that own his mobile home. Most of the others are like Lynn Paten, a waitress at the nearby Shipwreck restaurant in Jupiter. She pays about $415 monthly rent.
“There’s one lady living here who is about 90 years old. What is she going to do?” Paten asked.
Florida law 723.083 requires mobile-home parks to give residents at least six months’ notice before they are required to leave.
Residents who are required to move are eligible for up to $3,000 for a single-wide home and up to $6,000 for a double-wide in state compensation through the Florida Mobile Home Relocation Trust Fund. To qualify, residents must move out within six months and agree not to sue the property owner.
About a dozen boats, almost all of them owned by commercial fishermen, are docked on the canal that leads to the Jupiter Inlet on the north side of the Bell’s property. Grayson and Nancy Michaud, who have docked dock their 27-footer there for years, miss the days when the park was full of families.
“They would watch my boat. They would call me if there was ever a problem,” said Grayson, a North Palm Beach resident.