Two years ago, my husband was driving around town and happened upon a piece of property that was for sale. Being RV enthusiasts, something just clicked. He immediately envisioned an urban RV park. He is fast acting. When he gets an idea in his head – whether it be a family car when I became pregnant with my first daughter, a 38′ motor home a year later or building an RV park from ground up – believe me, it will become reality!
He brought me and our two very young daughters at the time to the property to share his vision. The entire 45 minute drive from our house was my husband trying to justify what he saw in the property and for me to just hear him out. But, when we arrived across the street from said property, I couldn’t believe how absolutely perfect of an RV park it could become. I was in awe that no one had thought of this idea before!
It is a large, grown over parking lot with chain link fences all through it. It had been vacant for 10 years with no future use in sight. There is a large building with a metal roof and four industrial style garage doors. The building next to it has a sunken roof and enough damage that it will be going away. Fortunately, there is a tall chain link security fence all around the property.
Being RVers ourselves, we could see what we wanted and needed to do to make our park stand out and be a place many would like to stay. Being that we have three young girls, we wanted to include a recreational area. Ours will be in that large space adjacent to the front office. It will be indoors which is nice for rainy days or hot days. But, for the beautiful days that are typical in Tucson during certain times of the year, we can open those garage doors for indoor/outdoor fun.
Other things we look for that we will have at our park are amenities like a pool, clean and level spaces, wide roads, easy reservations, fire wood for purchase, and a helpful and courteous staff. But, even more important (and what will set our RV park out from the others), is location, location, location!
It is located right off of I-10 at St. Mary’s and Grande Avenue. There is a grocery store immediately across the street (we are standing in their parking lot in this picture) and multiple fast food options in that same parking lot. There is a large park across the street with a playground and a water park. It also has a lot of walking room – great to get out and stretch your legs (or your pets’ legs). In addition, there are local Mexican restaurants where you can get locally, family owned cuisine as well as fresh tortillas!
When we first thought about the idea of building this land into an RV park, the city of Tucson was prepping the roads for installation of Tucson’s first streetcar! It began running this past year and takes visitors to three of Tucson’s premiere locations – our newly updated downtown, eclectic Fourth Avenue and the University of Arizona’s Main Street area. Our guests will be literally in walking distance to over 300 restaurants, shops and attractions! BUT you won’t even have to walk to the streetcar stop up the road. We will also have a free shuttle for our guests.
So, sitting in the car across the street from this property, we decided…let’s go for it!! My husband did a lot of research and found that there are more RVers than ever! He also measured the property and put together a diagram of what he thought would be a good concept for an RV park. He even made a miniature RV to scale with the diagram to confirm the turn radius of the roads and sites would work for all size motor homes and fifth wheels. A lot of front end planning took place before any bank was called or seller advised of our interest.
Then it was time to talk to the banks. It took several months and a very detailed business plan to get to the point where we could find a bank to work with us. We thought that was the hard part and we were very excited when we found a bank to share our vision. But that was nothing compared to the next TWO YEARS! The property had to be rezoned in order to become an RV park. Rezoning a property isn’t easy in itself but to rezone it into an RV park is even harder. You see, not everyone is an RVer so some don’t quite understand the dynamics of an RV park. The neighborhood association had to weigh in and some were not happy about an RV park becoming their neighbors. I guess they have a vision of us RVers as a rowdy crowd that will just make the area crazy with loud motor coaches and parties. It is true that we know how to have a good time, but I know RVers are also very considerate of others not to mention we will have a noise free time at night. And, because we will have full hookups at all sites, no need for generator noise. But they didn’t get it.
But my husband pushed on with committee meetings, council meetings and lots of phone calls. At times it seemed like the rezoning was going to be the wall that blocks us from our dream. There were days that it seemed like a lost cause and my husband would seem crushed. But there were also positive things that happened during the process that would make us still keep the faith. We thought the rezoning was going to be the hardest part.
But then there was the permitting. Which we are still working through the last little bit. There were many different departments looking at our business plan and picking it apart word for word, piece by piece, dumpster by dumpster. No kidding. There was a month long struggle about how many dumpsters should be on property, where they should sit, etc. If anyone made any amendments to our plan, the plan had to be revised and sent to all of the departments again. And this did happen.
Yesterday was a day we hoped to see but wondered if it would ever come. It was finally time to close the loan on the property. Up to this point, our little family was taking on all of the costs of zoning, permitting, architects, engineers, contractors, etc. We made major adjustments to our day to day to accommodate for the costs of getting through these two years of hurdles. But we made it. The pen had ink and the papers had lines to sign. It was a great feeling! Were we nervous? Not really! My husband has had some times when he was nervous about this idea but I have always been 100% confident that this was an amazing idea and it WAS going to happen! Yesterday was not about nerves…it was pure excitement and a sigh of relief! Now we can schedule a ground breaking once that last permit is in hand.
So, for those who have bought a house or other property, you hear the phrase at a loan closing that you will be “signing your life away.”
But, for us, we feel like we just signed on for a new life!