Morgan Resort Residents Own Cloudy Future
Robert Moser is struggling to stay out of financial and legal trouble in other states, and some residents of his Adirondack recreational vehicle campsite, Coldbrook Campsites in Gansevoort, N.Y., are worried they won’t have a home this summer, the Saratoga Springs Saratogian reported.
Moser, a resident of Greenfield Center, is the owner and CEO of Morgan RV Resorts, which is a division of Morgan Management LLC. According to its website, the company manages $2 billion in real estate assets and “is responsible for 16,000 apartments, 16,000 recreational spots, 8,000 mobile home sites and a variety of industrial parks and resorts.”
The company maintains RV parks, campgrounds and manufactured home sites in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and other states. Morgan RV Resorts is considered one of the largest privately owned RV park corporations in the country.
Normal Bustle Missing
The Coldbrook Campsites in Gansevoort is normally bustling with activity at this point in the season, a week before opening day, summer resident Helga Manning of Schenectady said.
But on Wednesday afternoon (April 24), the campground was deserted, with no workers in sight. Pinecones and brush littered the property and a glance into the camp store’s window revealed a jumbled, chaotic mess of abandoned camping goods.
Manning is one of more than 200 people who rely on the Coldbrook Campsites as their home for the summer season. She said some residents have already paid the $2,500 camping fee for the summer and that she and other residents of Moser’s campsites are concerned because rumors are circulating that the campground won’t open and they will lose their deposits.
Much of that concern is rooted in court documents, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and newspaper articles that tell a story of a company deep in debt and its owners, who are accused of going to unseemly lengths to make a buck.
2011 Court Fight
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley took Moser to court in 2011 and won, after Moser and his staff strong-armed nearly 100 residents into purchasing expensive memberships to stay in their homes. Some residents paid as much as $16,000 because they were scared of being kicked out of Peters Pond RV Resort in Sandwich, Mass.
“This company took advantage of elderly customers and retirees who invested a significant amount of money in their homes,” Coakley said in a press release after the attorney general won the case in 2012. “It is difficult to believe that any business would try to strong-arm people who worked and saved their entire lives so they could enjoy their golden years. We are thankful that these practices will end and that consumers will receive restitution.”
But Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, said the office still has a contempt action pending against Moser, his attorney, Carmel Gilberti, and various companies Moser conducts business through for “discouraging consumers from accepting restitution to which they are entitled,” according to court documents.
The court documents filed by the Massachusetts attorney general allege “defendants and Gilberti repeatedly misinformed consumers that if they accept restitution, the consumer’s seasonal fees for 2012 will increase by about 25 percent.”
Moser’s business partner is Robert C. Morgan, the owner of Morgan Management in Rochester.
New York Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Hook said Thursday that the office has received eight complaints against the company since 2010, but she couldn’t specify the nature of those complaints.
Although there is no formal investigation, Hook said, “they are on our radar.”
Manning said she and many other Coldbrook summer residents pay a winter storage fee to leave their RVs at the campground off-season.
“I would just like to get my stuff out and my money back,” Manning said, adding that company representatives have been overly aggressive about collecting campers’ fees this season.
Call Center Nearly Empty
The call center for Morgan RV Resorts is located at 63 Putnam St. in Saratoga Springs, where the company was once headquartered. The call center is largely empty and most of its contents are packed in boxes; only a handful of female employees were working there Wednesday afternoon. A visit to the office found they are busy collecting money from consumers and reassuring customers that the campgrounds will open on time.
Moser, who was reached Wednesday for a brief telephone interview, said the campground will open as scheduled May 1 and that people have nothing to worry about. He said workers haven’t been scheduled for the season yet because of a change in management companies.
Moser confirmed his company is selling assets, which a February filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission also confirms. Sun Communities Operating Limited Partnership purchased 10 RV communities from Moser and his business partner for more than $111 million.
Moser was adamant Wednesday that Coldbrook is not being sold.
However, by Thursday morning, Coldbrook Campsite Resort was removed from the company’s list of resorts on its website, www.morganrvresorts.com, and by Thursday afternoon all of its campgrounds were removed from the list.
Other RV parks and campgrounds Morgan runs in the region include NASCAR RV Resorts at Adirondack Gateway in Gansevoort, Lake George Suites in Lake George and Lake George Campsites in Queensbury.
Morgan Management also is involved in the development at least two projects in Saratoga County — a mixed-use complex at the corner of routes 50 and 67 in Ballston, with 300 housing units and several retail spaces, and a proposed 123-acre mixed-use development with a 148-room hotel, a supermarket, three-story office buildings, restaurants and a major sporting goods retailer in Moreau. For both projects, Morgan Management is partnering with The Buck Group.