New Pensacola Beach RV Resort to Open Aug. 1
After a long and sometimes bumpy road, a new recreational vehicle campground on Pensacola Beach in North Florida is scheduled to open on Aug. 1.
Paved roads and curbs and a swimming pool are being installed, a manager is being hired and a website is under construction for the 72-campsite Pensacola Beach RV Resort, located on Via de Luna, just east of the Soundside Centre in the heart of the commercial district, the Pensacola Business Journal reported.
The developers — Pensacola attorney Jim Reeves and Bill Whitesell of Whitesell-Green General Contractors — had hoped to open the $2.4 million resort in the spring so they could cater to campers for the busiest days of the tourism season — Independence Day and the Blue Angels air show week.
But Reeves said the project was slowed because it took two years to secure permits from the state, Escambia County and the Santa Rosa Island Authority to build on the environmentally sensitive barrier island.
And the construction was abruptly halted in December when discolored sand — varying from dusty gray to clay orange — was uncovered during site preparation.
The discolored sand violates a county ordinance designed to protect the white-sand beach. The county ordered Reeves to have the sand removed before continuing construction.
It took a monthlong mediation process between Escambia County and the developers to resolve how much of the discolored sand had to be removed.
In the end, Reeves was required to remove an additional 209 cubic yards of sand on top of the 3,198 cubic yards that already had been removed.
He said it cost him $30,000 in legal fees to settle the dispute.
Keith Wilkins, the Escambia County community and environment director, said the mediation process was “messy” but the issue was resolved to the county’s satisfaction.
Reeves also said the project has been held up because it took six weeks to get a pool permit.
“That was the last holdup,” he said. “But we are coming along.”
The RV resort will feature a club house, workout room, laundry facility, bathrooms and showers and a beach area fronting Santa Rosa Sound.
“The location is unique because you can walk to restaurants,” Reeves said. “We’ve made arrangements with the Elks Lodge for our campers to play bingo in the off season.”
And campers also will be able to enjoy catering services from Culinary Productions, a Pensacola company.
Michelle and David Daniel, who moved from Pace to Sugarland, Texas, 18 years ago, had hoped to be camping there for their two-week family vacation in July.
“We camped at Fort Pickens last year, and it was fabulous,” Michelle Daniel said. “But we have young kids who love to swim in a swimming pool. And we’d love to be by the (Portofino) Boardwalk. ”
Daniel said if they can’t camp there this July, they will book reservations for later in the year and definitely for next year’s blues beach show.
John Schuster, general manager of Camping World in Gulf Breeze, which provides supplies, parts and service to RV campers, said there’s pent-up demand for the resort.
“I know Mr. Reeves is having to jump through a lot of hoops to get it built, but I hope he can get all that behind him and move on,” he said. “It will be a great asset and will bring a lot of tourism dollars.”