Affordable housing is here!

Kerby gets a makeover with Mountain Timber Estates

Anita Savio
IVN contributing writer

A refurbished home for sale in Mountain Timber Estates Tuesday, Aug. 15.
(Photo by Daniel J. Mancuso, Illinois Valley News)

The former Kerby Pines RV Park is going through a top to bottom makeover, starting with its name.
Ken and Cari Wegner purchased the property three years ago and have given it the upscale name of Mountain Timber Estates. Previously the park was known for its bedraggled mobile homes, overflowing garbage and enormous rainy season puddles.
“We thought it was an opportunity to improve the park and create an opportunity to have a safe community of affordable housing,” said Ken Wegner.
For starters, the Wegners demolished about 15 homes that were not reparable. Then they repaired and completely remodeled many others with new plumbing, flooring, painting, cabinets, appliances, hardware, and resealed roofs. The homes were then put on the market for $75,000 or less.
Also redone was the park infrastructure: water, sewer and septic. In addition to mobile home spaces, the Wegners are also offering some RV spaces. The Wegners pointed out that many of the RV spaces are actually occupied for the long term.

As a result of the demolitions, there are now spaces available for additional mobile homes to be brought into the park. The Wegners are about to bring in a brand new double-wide home that will go on sale for about $100,000 or a little more. This will be the first of other new homes they plan to introduce to the park.
Because this is an older park, with smaller spaces, they will probably bring in some larger single-wides as well.
The makeup of park occupants has changed, and some tenants were displaced, although there remains a core of fantastic tenants, according to the Wegners. When they purchased the property, about 70 percent were renters versus 30 percent owners, but the Wegners estimate that eventually the park will be 85 to 90% owner occupied.
Home spaces rent from $550 to $600 a month, while RV spaces rent for $500.
Mortgages are available for the mobile homes through 21st Mortgage, with a down payment of five to 10%.
“We really, really are trying our best,” said Cari Wegner. “This has been an enormous project, a big challenge.”
One of the biggest challenges, according to Cari, was having to evict certain people, whether for nonpayment of rent or criminal activity.
“Before there were needles all over the place,” said Cari, “there were drunks in the streets, there were fights, you had guns, you had people driving through at all hours of the night. It was just a terrible place.”
As an example of the sea change, Ken pointed out that there is a one-to-three acre meadow in the middle of the park that was never utilized, and now he sees children playing there.
“It’s become a safe place for a family now,” he said.