Gaslight Village Mobile Home Park is under contract to be sold for redevelopment, a decade after the park split to allow construction of a Best Buy, Home Depot and other commercial development northeast of 31st and Iowa streets.
And new homes or apartments could be on the way.
Residents of the 41-acre park, 1900 W. 31st St., are being advised of the proceedings by the park’s owner, which notes that funds are available to help relocate mobile homes to other parks if the sale goes through in the coming months.
Edwardsville-based Mid-America Manufactured Housing Communities, which owns the park, has distributed notification letters to residents of the 148 homes at the park, which has 241 spaces — and has been the subject of development speculation ever since developers secured approval in 2001 for opening a Home Depot at 1910 W. 31st.
“The rumors are flying wildly again,” said Tom Horner, corporate secretary for Mid-America. “There is a potential buyer out there that is looking at buying it. We just wanted to be honest with our residents and tell them the truth.”
While Horner declined to discuss specifics of the proposed use, citing a confidentiality agreement, he noted that the city would need to approve any development plan. Such approval, in turn, would trigger a deadline for the buyers to close on their purchase.
“It would be a change of use for the property,” Horner said.
City officials have been in contact with a company that envisions a project “along the lines of a residential use,” one that would comply with the area’s comprehensive plan, said Scott McCullough, the city’s planning director.
The property, now zoned for single-family homes, is designated for future “medium-density residential” development. That would require rezoning to a designation that would allow an increase from four dwellings per acre to a range of seven to 15 units per acre.
Such zoning could allow for a “wide range of uses,” McCullough said: from single-family homes to duplexes, townhomes and apartment buildings.
An existing apartment complex across the street, formerly called The Exchange, would be at the upper end of the “medium-density” range, McCullough said.
“The plan envisions a little bit higher zoning, but still a residential category,” he said. “It’s an evolution of organizing the area. If it’s done correctly, according to the plan designation, then it could be good for the area.”
Undeveloped property to the east is not included in the envisioned development plan.
Gaslight Village had been home to 421 lots along the north side of 31st Street when, back in 1999, it became the focus of a major development initiative: A Chicago-based company wanted to use more than half of the park for a new Home Depot, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other uses, adding up to more than 250,000 square feet of retail and more than 1,000 parking spaces.
More than two years later, a downsized version of the plan — a smaller Home Depot, and no room for Dick’s Sporting Goods, an anticipated office-supply retailer or a proposed linen store — won city approval.
Since then, Horner and his partners have continued to own the park and his management company, MHP Property Management Services, has continued to operate it.
And while they’ve never posted a “for sale” sign out front, they’ve continued to field inquires regarding a potential sale.
“We’ve be approached on a regular basis — annually, at least, ever since the Home Depot deal,” Horner said Tuesday. “We’ve had people come by to solicit us, everybody from brokers to users and everybody in between.”
Now such interest has advanced to the point where a contract is pending. Surveyors have been on the park site, verifying boundary lines and infrastructure that would have an effect on the sale.
As Gaslight Village’s owners say in their letter to residents: “We will keep you informed as the potential sale progresses during the next several months.”