Sunland Gives New Life to California Resort

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June 4, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

The gates are open at Emerald Desert RV Resort and Spanish Walk, and it looks like the popular RV park near Palm Desert, Calif., and the troubled residential project, which both have new owners, will be moving forward side by side in more or less peaceful coexistence, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun

It wasn't always so. 

The RV park, known for its well-kept grounds and upscale amenities, originally occupied the full 80 acres of the site the two projects now share at the corner of Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford drives in Palm Desert. 

But in 2005, the land was bought by San Diego-based Taylor Woodrow Homes, which planned to replace the RV park with 251 homes and condos. The company closed down about two-thirds of the park in 2006 and started building Mediterranean-style units. 

Then the housing market went south, construction all but stopped at Spanish Walk and instead of closing permanently in 2007, Emerald Desert remained open for the winter season the last two years. 

 The park got a new lease on life last month when it was snapped up by Sunland RV Resortslogo-sunland, a San Diego-based  company that owns six other upscale motor home parks, including Golden Village Palms in Hemet. 

 "We decided to purchase it because it's a beautiful property that is literally known throughout the country as one of the  prettiest RV resorts out there," said Greg Sidoroff, operations manager. "We intend to keep it as an RV property." 

The company is planning some park renovations and will keep it open year-round, instead of just during the season, Sidoroff said. 

Meanwhile, after building 22 homes at Spanish Walk – all of which have been sold and occupied – Taylor Woodrow sold the project last year to Highpointe Communities, an Orange County developer. 

Steve Vliss, president of the company, said he is basically sitting on the land, waiting for the housing market to turn around. 

"We wouldn't anticipate any vertical homes construction starting in the community for three to five quarters," Vliss said, indicating mid- to late- 2010. 

Taylor Woodrow had also previously sold a plot at Spanish Walk to developer D.R. Horton, which is building and selling condos at the site. 

Paul Parkinson, area sales manager, said 156 condos – all two-bedroom units – will be built at the development, called Alegria. 

So far about 60 units have been built, and 46 sold, Parkinson said. 

The company is selling about one condo a week at the project, which should be completed in about two years, he said. 

"We're selling them first and building them after that."

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