Warning: Post is unedited for my convenience.
It feels like we haven't even begun developing our RV Park and yet we have. Sometimes there is so much you do before you even get to the starting line. For us it started with visits around a card table with my parents and looked like my Dad ( an RV Park consultant, owner, and manager) telling us all about the good and the bad in the RV business. From there the idea trickled into our mind in that special "What if.." section of our brains. You know the section that seems like it is a daydream that will never touch earth. It may have stayed that way had the card games not continued. It would have stayed a dream if day to day reality was a little more palatable. We have worked in construction for over 20 years, Jason doing the hard work and I the paperwork, some residential building and all the inbetween. Of course there was that 3 year stint where he worked out of state and my in between was a little busy raising 4 boys, but that is another story. Jason's work is very physical and pretty much for the last 20 years we have looked at an exit strategy for this owner/operator Drywall Contractor.
The perfect recipe for where we were going was coming together. A trusted advisor, a desire to exit the construction industry, a healthy dose of "we can do anything we put our mind to" and a dash of "what's the worst that can happen?" started us on our search for an RV park to purchase.
We looked close to home, we looked across the country, we looked in the mountains and on the coast, we found several that would likely be a good fit. The problem was Jason and I seemed to have this hidden talent of making RV park owners change their mind about selling usually after doing a lot of due diligence and making an offer. If you have a good RV Park you should hang onto it, so I don't blame them for keeping a good thing.
This is when our insane day-dream morphed from owning and existing RV park to the crazy idea that we could take a bare piece of ground and develop it into a thriving park. Perhaps we needed to nibble on the idea of an established park purchase before swallowing the elephant of developing?
Land is for sale everywhere so you would think property purchase for an RV park wouldn't be too difficult. Good thing we are up for doing hard things. Some communities are friendly to new projects, and others seem to block your every move. ( Like wanting to charge $960,000 for sewer hook up fees alone) The planning and zoning boards we have met with are pretty good to drop clues about whether a certain parcel of land would likely make it to the finish line of the process. With an RV park that is not quite a commercial project, because people stay and sleep there, but not quite a residential project because they come and go finding the right zone and the right parcel was a process of trial and error. We sifted through 5 different cities before finding an amicable one, and then we explored 6 different parcels with trips to planning and zoning before we arrived at 4918/4920 Laster Lane in Caldwell Idaho. ( Ironically this piece of property was originally purchased to develop an RV park but then took a few different paths, fortunate for us.)
This property is 3 miles from the interstate and has a stop light protected turn right to our front door. It is close for the Interstate RV traveler, but far from the noise they hear all day on the road. Heck we are even a stones throw from Camping world, right around the corner from a C-Store, a Car wash, and restaurants. Perfectly wedged between commercial development and residential parcels the property blends nicely between. Because of a uniquely placed canal and some existing trees the property still has a country feel to it.
One of the prohibitive costs to developing land is bringing utilities to the property. This land had water, sewer, trash, and natural gas stubbed practically to the property line. It even has pressurized irrigation and water rights. ( And the cities rates were reasonable for hookup)
In addition to the land being ideally situated there were a few well placed structures on the two parcels. One parcel right near the main road had a 1200 square foot house with a hip roof. The back parcel has a 3000 sq foot steel framed building with utilities and a beautiful concrete floor. It seemed perfectly designed to change these buildings into our front office, and laundry, showers, clubhouse respectively.
Once we were convinced that this was the ideal spot for this project we had to convince the neighbors and city that it was as well. We simultaneously applied for a lot line adjustment to put two parcels into one while applying for a Special Use Permit. The land was zoned for a higher density residential use but we needed a special permit to use it for the purpose of an RV park.
To apply to the city we have to have some sort of rendering of what this project will look like, We also needed to spell out the financial feasibility to make sure a bank would lend us the funds necessary to make this dream into a reality. So preliminary plans were drawn, rudimentary sketches of landscaping submitted, neighborhood meetings were posted and scheduled and I set to work writing up a business plan. Have you written a business plan before? It is a little involved and I wanted to do it well. Good news the bank gave me 5 gold stars when I was done with all my "proof" that this indeed was a sound plan. We also got the green light on our credit, assets, liabilities, down payment, and loan terms.
Funny how I can sum up years worth of work in just a paragraph or two.
This is all ground work that had to be done just to see if we could take the idea from "what if" to " could we?" More to come....