Boardwalk Beach Resort to be Joined by an RV Park?

by February 3, 2012 • 26 comments

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

There seems to be some popularity with the concept of using a motor-coach RV park as a last ditch effort to generate revenue on a vacant piece of land. This is a topic that’s come up before with the community standing up in opposition.

Well, it’s come up again.

The land that’s being proposed.

The subject land in the limelight is owned by Royal American Development and is the current home to the welcome center for Royal American Hospitality (same principal owners). The land is adjacent to the gulf front resort, Boardwalk Beach Resort and was originally intended to be phase II of the Boardwalk Condominium development.

The actual parcel itself is about 400 feet on the gulf and rests between the Top of the Gulf condominium resort and the Boardwalk Condominium tower.

A need to generate revenue.

The story here seems to be the same. The market tanked before they could sell the other building so it has sat pretty much vacant every sense.

As with the LaBorgata piece of land, you probably have a developer who spend a lot of money on the land, pre-development costs and is badly in need of a way to stop the bleeding.  I assume there are monthly costs associated with holding the land, an annual tax bill, etc.  Of course, this is just an assumption.

But the desire to turn a non-revenue generating parcel into something that makes money is honest enough, right?  But at what expense?

The plan.

On paper, the plan is to turn this into an RV park, although no conceptual plans were turned in with the rezoning request.  The land owner is requesting the approximately 5.6 acres be rezoned from T-2 to T-M.

As noted in the application Data and Analysis document, the reason for the request reads as follows:

The applicants have indicated that they intend to develop the site into an RV park.  However, if the rezoning were approved the site could be used for mobile homes, travel trailers, motor homes, motels, hotels, condos, town homes, apartments, churches, clubs, lodges, parking lots, parking garages and mobile home sales.  

It is the breadth of possibilities that seems to have local property owners up in arms.  The potential for developing anything that could adversely effect their property values in an already depressed real estate market is being reported as unnerving.

The document then goes on to read:

A plan amendment is not required for this request.  As such, the request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan since the T-2 zoning district and the T-M zoning district are both part of the Tourist Future Land Use Map designation of the Comprehensive Plan.  This means the City must provide competent substantial evidence in the record of the meeting if it is to deny the request. 

Continuing later in the document:

Surrounding parcels are zoned T-M, T-3A and T-2.  Condominiums are located to the east (Top of the Gulf) and west (Boardwalk) of the subject site and an RV Park/Campground, T-shirt shop, and golf course are located across South Thomas Drive to the north.  A proposed RV Park on the subject property is compatible with the uses to the north. . . [With] adjacent property owners. . . the impact on property values of the condominiums is the potential issue.  As with all properties, if an adjoining property is not maintained and kept in a clean and neat condition; properties in the area can be adversely impacted. . . However, the applicant manages several units within the Boardwalk Condominium and will likely manage the subject property such that their values are not adversely impacted.  Whether an RV park in this area will diminish property values of adjacent condominiums is very difficult, if not impossible to determine. . . The RV Park/Campground across South Thomas Drive did not prevent the construction and increase in property values of the Boardwalk condominium. . .  For these reasons, staff cannot determine that the presence of an RV park on the subject property will cause an adverse impact to adjoining property values especially if the use is well maintained and managed. 

The document concludes:

Because the quest is consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan, the burden of proof is not with the owner but rather the City to base a decision on competent substantial evidence especially if the request is denied.  Based upon information gathered to date, Staff is unable to identify a substantial reason to deny the request.  However, judicial decisions have indicated that direct testimony of nearby property owners at a public hearing can be considered by a Board and used as competent substantial evidence in denying a request if such evidence indicated the owners will likely be adversely impacted by the approval of the request. 

What all this means and what to do (IMPORTANT).

I’ve been to a few of these meetings and the board is reasonable in hearing the opinions of the audience.  The developer should be amicable regarding the proposed development and how it will effect property owners, but if you’re an owner and you want your voice heard, you need to be at the meeting.

The document reads that there is no reason to deny the request unless the local property owners have substantial evidence that they’ll be negatively effected.

So, if you don’t like this, do your research on how this can be detrimental to your property, show up to the meeting with the facts, and be ready to present.  But, planning on coming to yell at the board, yell at the developer (or his engineer) or cite emotional turmoil won’t strengthen your argument.

The meeting will be held at Beach City Hall on February 13 at 2 pm cst.

So, what do you think, should they put an RV park next to Boardwalk Condominiums?

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1 Cathy February 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Wow…. unreal news to read tonight.
Is this because on the 5.6 acres they are asking to be rezoned there isn’t enough room to build another condo with enough parking?
This will be the only RV Park… beachside. Hummmmmm Let’s do a lil figuring here:
If they have 100 spots at 75.00 a night, 7500.00 (one night) x 6 night 45,000.00 you can take it from there. This will be something that The Boardwalk alone can offer.. to my knowledge no other condo property offers RV facilities.
This would be ideal for families who camp and have lots of children….. where else could they stay (right on the beach) in their own “nice” camper, possibly 4 to 6 persons for 450.00 a week?
Jason, what do you think about all this?
Interesting news…… good/bad, I am not saying… just interesting.
Thank you,
Cathy/Tennessee 🙂

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2 Greggt February 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Well I for one feel this idea doesn’t give the beach any value except to the current property owners. I would think there are enough RV/trailer parks already in PCB, I’m sure those folks that bought condo’s at the Boardwalk are thrilled with this proposal.

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3 Jim Vider February 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

The Developer had a vision in 2003 – 4 Luxury hi-rise condo buildings with world class amenities. This vision was converted into a sales presentation complete with scale models of the entire development complex. What we got was only 1 condo building with only some of the promised amenities. The economy delayed this vision and I do not blame the developer for this delay.

Now the same Developer – Royal American Development Inc. / Resort Hospitality Enterprises Ltd – has a new vision – let’s put a low investment mobile / RV park and trailer storage facility next to this luxury condo to at least generate some income. The obvious result will be lower property values in this “mixed use” scenario resulting in lower property taxes collected and lower sales tax revenues for the governmental entities. As we know, most of these units are rental units and do you think guests are going to pay higher rental rates to be adjacent to a trailer park?

The developer also owns most of the amenities seaward of the building’s footprint, the fitness center and the condo commercial space on the 1st floor of Boardwalk Central. How will the Boardwalk owner keep the “trailer people” from over-running our amenities?

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4 STL February 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

There is no distinction for a “high end” luxury motorhome park in the licensing application for travel trailer parks. Any size or type of trailer can and will be allowed in here. The market will decide that. Once the zoning is changed the parcel can be sold or leased (it’s more valuable now) and all the slick marketing materials and promises won’t prevent it from turning into a field of BBQs, barking dogs, lawn chairs and clotheslines.

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5 Bill February 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

What a load of partial truths in the developers statement. The Boardwalk comdominium was presented and sold as phase one of a mult-tower building. The area the developer wants rezoned was to be phase 2 of the project. I certainly can understand the cash pinch the developer has, but lowering the value of properties owed in Boardwalk Central as well as Top of the Gulf through the creation of a “campground” is outragious. The developers should sell the parcel to a properly funded develpoer who can continue the Boardwalk master plan that was presented when marketing the building. I have never heard of a change in zoning being allowed after construction has been started on a building. In case anyone doesn’t remember at least some construction permits have been issued for the parcel since the footings for Boardwalk
East have already been installed.

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6 Cat February 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Excellent use for this parcel of land, as homeowners a luxury RV resort adds more value than
A vacant construction lot and puts more occupancy tax into town too! Great idea, move
forward without delay!

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7 Gilly February 8, 2012 at 12:02 am

I think this is a fabulous idea. It seems to me that some of the people commenting on here and the one owner that was interviewed on TV have no concept of a luxury motorcoach or RV. I have family who own a luxury motocoach and I assure you that their RV (or as these people are equaing it to a mobile home- the kind we also refer to as a trailor) is worth more than some of these same owner’s beach font condos. People literally spend a good portion of their year traveling in ridiculously luxury RV’s that are worth more than half of Bay counties homes. I think it is a bit harsh to call this: “a last ditch effort to make some cash”. I applaud this development group for actually trying to go down another avenue that is a win win for both them and our local economy. How many empty condominiums have just been sitting vacant. Who in their right mind would build another condominium when that CLEARLY was a bad investment for ALL the developers who decided to paint our beautiful view of the gulf with high rise among high rise among high rise JUST TO SIT VACANT FOR FOUR years now!!! I mean, really?? Are we really going to argue that this developer SHOULD build another condo? Have we learned nothing from the past 4 years? Look into the demographic of people who own a luxury motorcoach, how much they pay for them, and how often they use them. To have a gulf front resort/park would be amazing. I personally would not stay in my families RV because at that point there would be too many people to fit comfortably, BUT I WOULD stay right next door in a condo and still be next to my family. I think this would be nice change from the camping trips in the mountains and national state parks. Although beautiful, I know my family would love to park their motorcoach gulf front. One could only imagine this luxury I suppose. I seriously laugh at those equating this to a trailor park. Only the top 10% of Bay county could even imagine owning a luxury motor coach, having the money to travel (fuel) and pay a fee to park it in an RV friendly resort/park. All you need is a little education to understand this. Calling and equating something house like on wheels to a double wide trailor is just plain ignorant. My family would take great offense to this. Accusing that this developer is just straight lying about ti being a luxury motocoach park and tha he might allow it to be a tralor park instead is unfai and seems a bit ludicrous. Isnt this same developer the owner of the Boardwalk beach resort? Would that jsut devalue his own property too? no one in their right mind would pull such a stunt. It would only hurt the developer at large.. Open up your minds Bay county. We have a TERRIBLE economy and we need something to change. This is the first fresh idea I have heard in a long time. I dont hear anyone else standing up and proposing any solutions.

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8 Greggt February 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

Well I certainly don’t agree Gilly (but that’s what lifes about!).
A few things:
Do you thing someone at the gate is going to inspect the RV to see if it is a “luxury motocoach” enough to be let in?
What about 5th Wheels, travel trailers, tents? Let’s face it, anyone that can pay the fee will be allowed!
We already have at least three RV parks on the beach (possibly more), why another?
Your statement of “Isnt this same developer the owner of the Boardwalk beach resort?” is a way off the mark, they developed it and then sold it off condo by condo with this great plan. The developer might still own a few condos that they could not sell but that is about it.
Many of the folks that bought in the early to latter 2000’s are in the same situation as the developer. He put forth a plan, got it zoned, sold millions of dollars worth of property based upon their plan, now because the economy tanked wants to change the rules.

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9 BigBadBuddy February 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

Gregg, You are 100% correct. These guys are trying to get zoning that will allow them to build a trailer park. Short and simple. Blows my mind that this bad decision is being considered to clean up the last bad / greedy decision the last guy made.

Make it a park! Have the city buy it. Better yet, build a senior center on it. Assisted living! I don’t’ care but keep your gypsy caravans out of here!

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10 Sam February 8, 2012 at 1:05 am

Agree with Gilly 100%, this is truly a fresh idea to attract new visitors to our area which benefits all of us. Don’t be ignorant, open your mind, don’t forget we are a resort community and rely on tourists.

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11 Gilly February 9, 2012 at 12:46 am

Ok, so again I am going to make the statement: Many, such as Greggt, have no concept of what a luxury MotorCoach Resort is or looks like. It is understandable because we do not have anything of it’s caliber anywhere near Bay County. Again, I am only aware of what this term means because I have close family members who have joined in on the Luxury motorcoach lifestyle and i will once again say, “this is no ordinary average joe lifestyle”. Greggt’s statement: “Do you thing someone at the gate is going to inspect the RV to see if it is a “luxury motocoach” enough to be let in? What about 5th Wheels, travel trailers, tents? Let’s face it, anyone that can pay the fee will be allowed!” is so inaccurate and i’m sorry to say, but ignorant. This is no different than your luxury waterfront condos for rent. The family who’s budget only allows for lodging at places such as the Super 8, La Quinta, or Days Inn are not the same people who will be renting your luxury gulf front condo. So your comment, “Do you thing someone at the gate is going to inspect the RV to see if it is a “luxury motocoach” enough to be let in?” is also stating that the reception desk of anywhere “luxury” including these places you and others own condos stand at the reception desk with a red crushed velvet rope and waive in those who they deem “wealthy enough to stay” and shoe off those who dont quit fit the mold, BUT in a pinch or when “red velvet rope holding guy” gets lazy, he’ll hold the rope open for an old person to come on in, get some keys, and access you beautiful condo that you invested all your hard earned money into. Not quite how that works, right? Those who can afford the luxurious must pay, and pay before they receive the keys/access. Moving on to statement #2:”We already have at least three RV parks on the beach (possibly more), why another?” Again, to compare anything we currently have to this proposed resort is preposterous. Raccoon River and the place behind Zoo World are exactly what you are against and this is NOt that. This isnt just going to be a parking lot with concrete slabs for any large recreational vehicle or 5th wheel to drive up on and sleep for a night. If you want to see what type of place this is proposed to be look at this website: http://www.heritageorangebeach.com/. these are the kind of places my family stays at and they aren’t cheap. There is an ENTIRE association of people who dedicate their lives to traveling around in luxury RV.s It i called the Family Motor Coach Association: http://www.fmca.com/. I’m not trying to be nasty in any way. I see an opportunity for our beach to bring in some much needed money to this economy in a way that people are already invested in. All they need to do is put PCB on their route of destinations. These are well to do couples/families that already own the Motorcoach, are already on the road, or preparing for their next trip and are always looking for a new place to stop. Maybe I am wrong about the intentions of the owner, who knows, ut I think we should at least hear them out for the good of this City. We HAVE to do something or it is just going to die off and turn into a ghost town. I will step down now.

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12 Greggt February 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm

First of all Gilly, I was not born under a cabbage leaf and don’t live on some back trail, I know full well what a luxury RV looks like!
You missed the whole thought of my response. I will go through it again except simpler. Just like the original proposed Boardwalk Complex, the economy threw a wrench in it. So because of things not working out as the developer planned, the plan is trying to change. What makes you think the original Luxury RV Plan will be successful in PCB? PCB is not Destin, I would lay my money once the traffic proves nothing like the original plan, now ALL forms will be allowed, cash flow is the name of the game! As I mentioned, two good examples of this can be found in two particular “mega-condo complexes” where they are now renting short term, long term, just anybody to “put a head in the bed”.

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13 BigBadBuddy February 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

This is a great idea! Maybe we could put a store in front of it that sells glass pipes, tattoos and piercings. Better yet let’s put a WalMart in front of the head shop and trailer park.

There is no way to regulate RV parks. Once the zoning is approved a trailer park can and will exist. Do you really want this low rent transient housing project established?

All of you Luxury RV folks need to buy a condo and clean up the existing inventory instead of bringing your Gypsy caravan to the beach. Stay home or better yet go to Branson and leave us alone!

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14 David Chapman February 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

The problem with the trailer park fear talk is that they are not allowed on the beach so it can not exist. The proximity to the water, the PCB land development codes, the flood zone etc stop trailers or ANY structure not on wheels from being on the site.

If you knew trailers are not allowed would you still be opposed?

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15 Jim February 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

I do not live locally, but can see where such a breadth of the zoning allowances would be scary. I suggest that someone, who is opposed to this plan, go to some of the local parks where this same type of zoning was allowed, and take a bunch of pictures of how they are maintained. The last time I ventured to Venture Out, it appeared to be well kept, but I believe they have an active Homeowners Association there. The same zoning would apply to any of the trailer parks that were built long ago too, I assume.

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16 Bill February 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

In response to David Chapman question here’s a few questions I have.

Where will you locate the sewerage pump out?
Where will you locate the gray water pump out?
What will the policy be on mechanical repairs?.
What will the policy be on the stink from the generators?
What will the policy be on air pollution (odorless) from the generators?
What will the policy be on tire repairs?
What will the policy be on sewerage and gray water spillage?
What will the policy be on fuel spillage?
What will the policy be on the noise from the generators?
What will the policy be on towed behind vehicles?
What will the policy be on roll out awnings?
What will the policy be on outdoor furniture?
What will the policy be on fuel sales?
What will the policy be on water sales?
What will the policy be on ice sales?
What will the policy be on outdoor TV?
Waht will the policy be on the music systems?
What will the policy be on food deliveries? (They are “ristricted” in the Boardwalk condo)

Anybody. Please feel free to add to my list.

Don’t think of a mobile home park, think of what you have observed when watching these things either going down the road or broken down along the interstate.

One person luxury motor coach might be a $200,000.00 Silver Eagle.
Another persons luxury motor coach might be a 20 year old Winnebago with bald tires and a Honda generator bungee corded to the rear bumper.

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17 David Chapman February 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Bill the plan is to provide water, sewer, power, cable, wi-fi etc for each slip so most of your concerns would not be an issue.

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18 Cathy February 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Bill……. All your questions are right on target but the very best comment you wrote was the compairson from Luxury Silver Eagle to Winnebago/bungee corded!
As I said way up in the funds that will be paid for overnight parking for a few nights or a week will certainly add up over time. But, will it be enough to compensate the good “Luxury” campers & the “Winnebago” campers. You sure cannot stand at the gate and designate who can enter & who cannot based on the type of camper they own. lol lol That would raise other issues.
And, yes there will be tents, lawn chairs, grills, coolers, flags, colored lights just swinging in the breeze!
🙂 I’ll still be enjoying my stay high up in a condo!
Cathy/Tn.

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19 Sue February 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Can we please correct the spelling in the title of the article, Boarwalk or Boardwalk. Also, it appears that the owners of proposed RV Park are addressing concerns with quality of RV’s being accepted (not campers) and utilities/amenities included, seems like they are planning a quality RV park and not a low rent campground that people are assuming. I would imagine that down the road when economic conditions improve they will move forward with original plan of building another condo tower, either way this is an improvement over the current vacant construction lot plus additional tourist taxes going toward the City of Panama City Beach.

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20 Hank Rutherford February 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm

We have again an issue with the LaBorgata property on the west end of the beach. It appears that another develper would like to revise the current existing (Planned Urban Development) at the corner of Kelley Street and Back Beach Road. We as residents are not apposed to the regulation as it stands, but feel that this revision would lead the way for the entire peice of land being as all commercial and negitivitly effect traffic at these intersections and on Kelly Street and Sun Lane, which already are being used as (cut throughs) to the beach and the Thom Thumb convienant store. PLease help us show support against this change at the City Council Meeting Room, Panama City Beach City Hall, located at 110 S. Arnold Road, Panama City Beach, FLorida on Monday February 13, 2012 at 2: p.m. You know a year and a half ago we were also apposed to another R.V. park planned to be located on this property. Really not something that you want to be living next to. It seems to me there is plenty of property isolated from heavy residential areas that could be zoned for this purpose. I wouldnt wish to stay in my travel trailer on the side of a busy 4 lane highway in the middle of a residential area. Those of living on the west end chose this area for a particular reason. Thank you Jason for permitting us to voice our opinion in this way. Everyone enjoys PCBDaily Hank Rutherford

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21 Andrea February 10, 2012 at 9:22 am

As both an owner at Top of the Gulf and an avid camper, I feel I can offer a little insight into this conversation. Campgrounds do not equate to slums and scary people. We have always had great experiences at campgrounds and met some really nice people. That being said, there are 3 main concerns I have…..
1) Having once had my condo managed by Royal American, I wouldn’t trust them to oversee my daughter’s doll house for a weekend. I would never believe anything they say. Very corrupt business with no concience. Quite frankly I would feel more confident about a campground there if anyone but them were in charge of it. I have seen how they opperate. Not impressed.
2) Unlike the units at The Boardwalk, the West side units at Top of the Gulf will directly overlook the campground. I’m sure the smells of campfires, lights, additional traffic, and noise will be a constant issue. (my unit faces the other way)
3) Those West facing Top of the Gulf units generally cost less to buy and rent already but, as an owner, this news could be devistating. Banks are already practically giving these units away making it nearly impossible for us to ever recoup what we paid for our property or refinance. It will further bring the entire building down. With condos that once sold for nearly $200.000 going for $45,000, how much more abuse do you think us honest condo owners can take?

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22 Andrea February 10, 2012 at 9:31 am

Let me also add, I have interest in helping Royal American genterate revenue at the expense of my property value. They need to come up with a better argument. They purchased the land and excepted the risk just as I purchased my condo. Why should my property value suffer to save them from their own over building?

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23 nick February 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I can’t believe they would allow rv park considering how depressed the real estate marke

Seems like pcb is turning into a bunch of
Very low class for the area. Real estate market already rock bottom. I thought we wanted to class up the area? Next will be a titty bar!!!!!!!!

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24 Hank February 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I would say for those of us that make the beach our home, and work here, and are concerned about the quality of the businesses that locate here, that we have to be diligent to oversee the planning of our officials to make sure that the right things happen in the right places. It’s up to all of us to show up to voice our opinions on these issues. Two things that we can do is to make it known that we agree or disagree with zoning practices and vote to elect the officials that we feel will make the right decisions based on facts that will help grow the beach in all the correct ways. We have all seen what happens when the smoke clears on a paticular prodject, ts built, fails, and is left alone in the sight and hands of us who have chose to live here. Lets give this situation some serious thought as to how it will effect us now and 2 years from now.
Thanks for letting me share Hank

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25 phillip February 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

GreggT as I posted before if u care and have time check out Bella Terra RV park in Foley AL. They only rent to class A motor homes that are less than 10 years old and are minimum of 32 feet in length. Something like this format if strictly enforced would possibly do very well especially beach side since other RV parks in PCB are not

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