Hybrid Approach Garners Success in Northern Michigan

manufactured home community the bluffs michigan manistee mhvillage mhinsider

It’s not the secluded woodland setting, the nearby lakes, hiking and biking trails, and golf courses that set this special property apart. It’s the fact that James R. Dougherty, president of Community Management Group, Inc., decided to take an old, bare-bones manufactured home community and transform it into a gorgeous hybrid retirement community with both RV and  manufactured home sites.

Hybrid RV and MH communities are common in warm weather states, as are retirement communities. But in Michigan, this combination is very rare, and adding all these features together makes The Bluffs on Manistee Lake a one-of-a-kind gem.

How Did The Bluffs Come About?

When Dougherty was in school, he studied accounting and became a CPA. Later, he purchased an apartment complex in Kalamazoo, Mich., as an investment property. The attorney he used to close on that complex was the attorney for the Blank Communities at the time and suggested that he look at manufactured housing communities. He took the advice, and over the years, Dougherty has had a number of communities. He still owns Ashbury Ridge just south of Indianapolis and Palm Gardens in Harlington, Texas.

The success of the RV/MH hybrid model in Texas inspired him to try the same in scenic Michigan. In late fall of 2018, The Bluffs opened and began selling homes. Due to the later start, they missed the RV season that year but were able to open those spaces to vacationers in the spring of 2019. COVID, which hit the following year, delayed some home sales but sparked the demand for RV sites.

aerial view manufactured home community the bluffs manistee michigan

“It’s built nicely for motorhomes because the sites were originally built for single-section homes, so they are gigantic RV sites,” Dougherty said. “And these  sites have been very popular.”

The Bluffs has 51 sites for manufactured homes and 44 spaces for RVs. The community also has 150 additional sites that are ready for expansion. But it’s not just the RV spaces that have that extra touch. Nearly every home has an attached garage, and all homes sit on a six-inch foundation with drop siding to achieve more of a residential neighborhood appeal.

“We’ve stayed here (at The Bluffs) twice in our motorhome,” seasoned RV traveler Dennis Gruschow, a guest at the community in 2022, said. “We were so impressed with all aspects of the location and amenities that we purchased a seasonal home here. Barry, the on-site manager, has been incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. He’s truly an invaluable asset to the community.”

The success is not surprising.

“We’re nearly full on the home side now,” Dougherty said.“We currently have two available sites and four model homes in place.” The Bluffs has a lot to offer its residents, including a large pool and hot tub, a beautiful clubhouse, and a location near the quaint town of Manistee for shopping and touring.

The RV sites are offered to seasonal and weekly guests from mid-April to the end of October. When asked if the expansion sites would be MH or RV, Dougherty said, “The engineering is already done if they’re going to be homesites, but given the response to the RV sites, we’re going to give some continued thought to what that mix should be between home and RV sites.

“So, yes, the whole hybrid thing has worked out,” he said. “At least to this point. It’s turned out really  nicely; I’m pleased with it.”

MHInsider is the leader in manufactured housing news and is a product of MHVillage, the top marketplace to buy, sell, or rent a manufactured home.