Being forced out opens new doors for family

Mary Chavarria sat in the living room of her new house watching her granddaughters play at her feet.

“I think they like it here,” she said and laughed. “I think they’re excited.”

Two days before, Chavarria sat against a tree across the street from her trailer at Ingleside Mobile Home Park and watched her four girls play in the yard.

Next door, a mobile home stood abandoned with windows broken out. A “V” spray-painted in bright orange marked the trailer as vacated and ready to be torn down.

“Used to you could come out here and listen and could hear children playing outside and laughing. Now it’s just nothing,” Chavarria said, sitting in the mobile home park. “But I let my kids out here because, despite all of this, I want to keep things as normal as possible for them.”

Chavarria, 52, just moved from Ingleside with seven children, two grandchildren and her husband.

Chavarria lived at the mobile home park for 19 years before the property was sold to Lexington-developer Neal Evans to make way for a new 168-unit apartment complex for students. She said in her time there, she saw a lot of change in the area.

“It’s changed a lot, it used to be a really nice place to live,” Chavarria said. “But things change, people come and go, and this is our time to leave and find something better.”

Eighteen families lived at Ingleside when Evans purchased the lot for $3.3 million in January from previous owner Mahmoud Shalash.

“A lot of people have moved since then,” Chavarria said. “But a lot of people are still here because they just can’t afford to leave. It’s not that they don’t want to move; it’s that they don’t have the means to, and they thought they would.”

Chavarria and her family bought a house down the street from Ingleside and began to move in early last week. She got a home loan for the house because she has good credit and her husband has a steady job on a horse farm in Lexington, but she said others have not been able to get monetary help.

After a meeting with Evans and Shalash in August, Chavarria said Ingleside residents left thinking that if the property was sold they would be well-compensated for their homes.

“I knew back in August that things weren’t going to work out like they claimed they would, that we wouldn’t be well taken care of,” she said. “But a lot of the people here believed (Evans) and thought they had nothing to worry about.”

Chavarria left most of her furniture behind when she moved; she bought a new couch, new beds and even new toys for her grandchildren.

Two days after getting the keys to her new house, Chavarria and her family were unpacking boxes and setting up a crib for Chavarria’s youngest granddaughter down the street from their old home.

“It’s a new home for us,” she said and turned to her 2-year-old granddaughter, Leah. “Are you excited about Granny’s new home?”

She laughed as Leah began jumping up and down with her hands in the air.

“I think we’re all excited about the new start,” Chavarria said. “I’d like to stay (with the other residents) and fight to the death for what we deserve, but I have a feeling that death will be coming very soon. And I’m just thankful I’ve found somewhere to go.”