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MOBILE-HOME OWNERS PUT PLANS ON HOLD AS MALL LOOMS

SHARE MOBILE-HOME OWNERS PUT PLANS ON HOLD AS MALL LOOMS

Mobile-home owners whose park might be buried by an indoor shopping mall feel like they're in limbo even though the city's trying to make relocation as smooth as possible.

"We're having a hard time deciding how to go on with the rest of our lives," said Barbara Julius, a resident at Laurelwood Estates Mobile Home Park.Residents' lives were thrown into turmoil when a Los Angeles-based development firm announced in April plans for a mall where their homes sit. Rohit Joshi & Associates intends to construct a 1-million-square-foot mall at an estimated cost of $100 million. Construction could begin next year.

Some mobile-home owners are apparently moving out rather than waiting to see if it happens. There are about 11 vacancies in the park which typically has none. Some are worried that their 20-year-old trailers can't be moved to another park because they won't comply with updated safety codes.

"People should not be moving out of there. It's not in their own self-interest," said Eugene Jacobs, a redevelopment consultant to the city. Jacobs helped write a redevelopment plan for the area. The City Council Tuesday declared 83 acres at about 1500 South between University Avenue and I-15 a redevelopment district. With that designation, displaced tenants are assured financial assistance for moving.

"Through redevelopment we can provide better protection and help for people in that area than by any other means," said Cole Durham, a redevelopment attorney for the city.

Park residents are somewhat in the dark regarding relocation because the city-appointed task force hasn't been able to talk to them. Park owners have prevented the task force, headed by former city housing specialist Jim Kenyon, from interviewing residents. Kenyon has been able to hand out surveys.

"We tend to fear when we don't know what's happening," said Julius, a task force member.

Once he has full access to the tenants, Kenyon said, a preliminary relocation plan and budget could be ready this month. He's hoping park owners won't block his path now that the redevelopment plan is in place.

Kenyon wants to present tenants three or four relocation options, including a new mobile-home park. Finding property and a neighborhood that will accommodate one might prove difficult.

Julius has a plea for people living in areas where a park might be proposed.

"As developers come along and apply to build a trailer park that community needs to really open their hearts and be charitable about housing the potentially homeless," she said. "The good people of Provo could really show these other good people of Provo what they're made of."