Neighbors Oppose Gulf Shores Motorcoach Resort

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March 5, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Developers in Gulf Shores, Ala., seeking city approval to build a 110-lot RV resort next to a marina on the Intracoastal Waterway face tough opposition from the owners of the 66 adjoining acres and the 842 acres on the north side of Baldwin County 4, the Mobile Press-Register reported.

The resort and marina project on 21 acres at the former Bon Secour Village marina site was tabled last week by the planning commission after the city asked for a traffic study. Developers Paul Stewart and Stephen Hicks will go before the planners on March 27.

"The RV park will bring people down here year-round," Stewart said. The project will cater to Class A motorcoaches that average in value between $500,000 to more than $1 million.

"We’ve got the financing in place," Stewart said. "I think the city wants this. They see this industry changing and evolving. These RV owners are more affluent than condo owners. We call it the country club of RV parks."

The neighboring landowner, Charter Landing Inc., headed by Ken Montgomery, calls it "a trailer park," and he and his partners are against the project, he said.

Charter bought most of the former Bon Secour Village property on the south and north sides of Baldwin County 4 in April 2011 for $4.5 million, including 4,000 front feet on the Intracoastal Waterway. Their acreage has been rezoned for a variety of uses, including hotels, businesses, offices and apartments or condominium units, he said.

"Gulf Shores has a choice," Montgomery said. "They can have a development that they will be proud of, or they can put in motorcoaches or fifth-wheels. I can’t imagine them doing that."

The business partners have the bank-owned acreage, the unfinished 60-slip marina and a luxury sales office under contract to purchase pending the project’s approval. The bank was asking $3 million for the property at one time.

The new resort would have 90 lots for Class A RVs and 20 gated lots for Class A lots for fifth-wheel RVs, which are usually towed by heavy-duty vehicles. There also will be 16 cottages for sale or rent.

The prices for RV lots have not been determined, but will be comparable to nearby RV parks, according to Stewart. Lot prices at Heritage RV Resort in Orange Beach and Bella Terra RV resort in Foley have ranged from $120,000 to more than $200,000.

The 90 RV lots will include a cabana and outdoor kitchen. The park amenities feature a restaurant, clubhouse, amphitheater, a putting green, a resort-size pool, a lazy river pool and a water taxi.

The park would be built by contractor Jim Brown, who built an RV park on Terry Cove in Orange Beach in 2004. Brown pleaded guilty to bribing public officials in a 2006 corruption case where he testified against his co-defendants, former Orange Beach Mayor Steve Russo and former city attorney Larry Sutley. Brown served a year in prison.

"If you look at the industry and the economy, this makes more sense than anything else," Stewart said. "If we don’t sell them, we’re fine with that. We can rent it. It’s just like a one- or two-bedroom condo unit. The ideal situation would be for a snowbird to buy one. They could stay for two or three months and then put it in the rental pool and have income from it."

Leonard Kaiser, owner of Kaiser Realty based in Gulf Shores, said the RV resort meets a demand in the market.

"The project will have the same economic impact as a first-class condo development."

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