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Mobile home park in downtown SLO to be fixed up and reopened

The historical Norcross House fronting the 1.44-acre property at 546 Higuera St. will be restored and rented as a residential unit, said John Belsher of PB Companies.
The historical Norcross House fronting the 1.44-acre property at 546 Higuera St. will be restored and rented as a residential unit, said John Belsher of PB Companies. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The trailers are gone from Mission Trailer Park in downtown San Luis Obispo, but the mobile home park, built in the 1940s, will reopen with manufactured homes.

In addition, the large historical Norcross House fronting the 1.44-acre property at 546 Higuera St. will be restored and rented as a residential unit, said John Belsher of PB Companies.

The private finance and investment firm bought the property near the Creamery in March 2014 from longtime park owner Rob Rossi for about $2 million, Belsher said. The owner is listed as Higuera Commons LLC, county assessor’s records show.

“We’re making it a modern park,” Belsher said, adding that it will be renamed Mountain View Terrace. “But it’s going to provide working-class housing in downtown San Luis Obispo — that’s what it’s aimed at.”

For years, Mission Trailer Park had provided an affordable place to live in a city with high housing costs. Its 33 spaces were filled at one time; in more recent years, about 20 people rented or owned their units.

The park deteriorated over the years and residents faced problems such as occasional sewage backups and an old, shoddy laundry room. But no major health or safety violations were recorded in the past decade, a spokesman in the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development told The Tribune in 2012.

Craig Steffens was among the longtime tenants who worried the park would be closed.

Over the years, they worked with various local officials to protect their rights as mobile homeowners — even working at one time with Belsher, who is also an attorney, said Steffens, who lived at the park for 26 years.

After PB Companies bought the park, the residents were eventually relocated, Steffens said. But the process was handled differently than what previous owners had attempted, in his view.

“I’ll give Belsher this — he did a pretty good job of relocating everyone,” Steffens said. “He managed to get the homeowners of the park relocated to units that were two to three times bigger than they had before.

“And (with) the renters he went way above and beyond because you only have to give them a 30-day notice, but he gave them all kinds of assistance with moving and security deposits.”

Belsher said all of the residents were moved within a 12-month period from the time PB Companies bought the park to when work started there in the spring. The new park will have 30 spaces, instead of 33.

Currently, the underground infrastructure is being replaced. Belsher estimated it would cost $500,000 to $1 million to reconstruct the park, not including the cost of the manufactured homes.

The units will be rented at market rate for downtown apartments “but they will be small units,” Belsher said.

In the meantime, Belsher is moving through the city process to redevelop the Norcross House, which was built in 1874.

It was originally the home of David Norcross, the sheriff in San Luis Obispo from 1871 to 1877 and president of San Luis Obispo Railroad, which played a significant role in bringing the Pacific Coast Railroad to the area.

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted last November to add the home to the city’s master list of historic resources. Belsher is worked on plans to restore the original part of the home and to add a separate garage with a residence above it.

Conceptual plans were reviewed earlier this year by the city’s Cultural Heritage Committee but still need to return to that advisory body.

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