The Lowry Grove mobile home park in St. Anthony Village is closed for good after tenants pitched a bitter, year-long fight to save their homes from demolition and redevelopment into mixed-income apartments.
Residents organized, protested, and sued, challenging the sale to the Village, an affiliate of Wayzata-based Continental Property Group. They claimed they had the right, per state law, to purchase the park for themselves. The Village insisted that residents didn’t collect enough signatures, or cash, to fulfill all the conditions of that same law.
Later, they even countersued Antonia Alvarez, leader of the resident-activists, for defamation.
Judges wouldn’t stop the sale, but the facts of the case are still being hashed out in court, with residents hoping to win big damages.
Residents fired one more shot at the Village in September, filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Village had violated the Fair Housing Act, they alleged, because 26 percent of park residents were Hispanic – a rate that is five times greater than that of Hennepin (5.4 percent) and Ramsey (4.7 percent) counties. Thus closing the park would disproportionately hurt Hispanic families.
The Village strongly disagreed. Efforts to conciliate failed. HUD conducted a months-long investigation, and ultimately decided to dismiss the tenants’ complaint.
“Most of the residents of the park are non-Hispanic and presumably, low income, thus, in all likelihood, the decision does not have a greater impact on Hispanic residents,” according to HUD’s final analysis.
“There is no reasonable cause to believe that the Act was violated, as alleged.”
Continental president Traci Tomas celebrated her company’s win on Wednesday, saying she was looking forward to submitting new plans for the park to the St. Anthony city council.