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Tavares mobile home park owner becomes reluctant developer, looks to sell land

Highlighted in red, Three Palms Mobile Home Park on W. Old US Highway 441 has been rezoned for residential development, perhaps for senior housing.
Highlighted in red, Three Palms Mobile Home Park on W. Old US Highway 441 has been rezoned for residential development, perhaps for senior housing. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

If it were up to Robert Tamburo, his Three Palms Mobile Home Park in Tavares would stay exactly as it is, with elderly residents continuing to live there, faithfully paying their rent once a month.

Instead, a number of compounding factors are forcing Tamburo to wipe the slate clean on his six acres of land off Old U.S. 441 near David Walker Drive, removing the mobile homes in favor of his own residential development or outright sale.

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"When I bought the property I planned to keep it as a mobile home park forever," Tamburo, a local attorney told GrowthSpotter last week.

His problems began with the mobile home park's septic system. Residents called the health department, and Tamburo spent a large sum to have the septic tank replaced. Unfortunately, the contractor didn't pull permits, and Tamburo found himself on the hook for his contractor's mistakes, he said.

Now the drain field is leaking, and the cost of fixing that is simply too high to justify for an aging mobile home park, Tamburo added.

His advisers suggested he close Three Palms and rezone it for residential multi-family, with a plan to build some sort of senior housing on the parcel. He was told there would be much demand for that.

So Tamburo went to the City of Tavares and asked to be annexed into city limits, agreeing to hook up to the city's utilities when they are available.

On Dec. 16, the city council approved the rezoning and the annexation. Tamburo now plans to remove the existing mobile home park and replace it with a senior adult low-rise apartment complex, with a total of 150 units.

But Tamburo isn't a developer and doesn't want to take on the arduous development process.

In the meantime, there are about 29 upset mobile home park residents to deal with.

Florida has strict rules governing the process of closing mobile home parks. Residents must be given six months notice of eviction, which Tamburo has done.

Also, residents can demand assistance to relocate their mobile homes. They could get between $3,000 and $6,000 for the relocation, depending on the size of the mobile home.

"The people that live there don't want to leave," Tamburo said.

As part of his application to the city, Tamburo had a study done locating other mobile home parks where the residents could move to for the relocation money they would receive.

Some residents who spoke during the council hearing said they didn't want to move away from the area, and said the whole business was taking a toll on their health.

"There are plenty of places they could go," Tamburo said.  "I didn't have any choice. They called the city and complained."

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Tamburo is not looking forward to his next step. He said he doesn't want to be in the business of developing a senior living facility and doesn't have the wherewithal to spend $12 million to $15 million to build it.

So he's now looking for interested land buyers.

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at teresaburney4@gmail.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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