Proposed RV Park NIXED

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by December 16, 2010 • 5 comments

I haven’t seen as lively a topic as this since spring break discussions of years past. At this week’s planning board meeting, it was stated that it had been years since they had a turnout like that, with the chairman of the board saying, “I hope your church has this good of an attendance on Sunday.”  I’m no expert on crowd estimations, but I’d say there was at least two hundred people in attendance.  The board room at the City building in Panama City Beach was packed full with standing persons lining the walls and wannabe attendees clamoring for a listen in the foyer.

I’ll get right to the point:  the RV park will not be developed on this property, not now, and probably not ever. After heavy opposition from the surrounding community, the developer withdrew their application to change their Planned Unit Development stating that at this point, they had no idea what they were going to do with the property.

Here is what happened.

Background

This property was originally intended to be an upscale townhome/condo community with upscale amenities, landscaping and a sidewalk to the beach.  With Alan Jackson’s name on it, there seemed to be credibility.  The development renderings looked great and prosperity seemed promising, then the real estate market tanked; it literally fell through the floor.

The developer had cash and took a leap of faith by started installing infrastructure.  They put in all the underground utilities and curbing for the roads.  Dirt was moving, then one day, it just stopped.  And that’s the way the property has been sitting every since – for almost three years.  Vacant, crushed dreams, derelict.

What the developer wanted

Think about it.  You’re a developer, you buy a sweet piece of land with a great plan on development.  You want to make money, you have to make money, that’s what you do when you develop land, you’re not doing it for your health.  Everything’s going great, then demand for your product just vanishes, like a morning fog under the hot summer sun.

You’ve spent buckets of money on infrastructure, marketing, ahem: land costs.  What do you do?  No one wants what you were originally going to sell.  You have to come up with a new plan, or give the property back to the bank, risking your entire financial reputation.

After planning on what could be accomplished on the property and research into what could still be in demand, the developer came up with an entirely new concept for the area:  an upscale motor coach community.  I saw the vision, but I’ve always been pro-development, an optimist if you will.  I envisioned high-end tour-bus sized motor coaches rolling into a well manicured, well insulated community, tucked behind large, decorative walls enjoying luxury amenities.

I think what the developer wanted was something that would be mutually beneficial for everyone: a productive use of the land that’s protective of the surrounding community and profitable for him.  What I envisioned would bring in high-end people to the area, offer a new amenity that’s not available to these high-end consumers and would not be intrusive to the surrounding area.

But, again, I’m an optimist, glass is half-full kind of guy.  I see the good in things, and I like my rose-colored glasses.  The surrounding community saw something different.  Perhaps they are more wise then me, or perhaps they were just bored.  Never the less, they certainly have more merit to argue their wants than me, I don’t live or own there.

What the surrounding community envisioned.

The surrounding community, led by “Luby” Woroch was irate about this change.  Stating that the developer was playing the oldest trick in the book.  The developer, at the meeting, asked for a continuance.  Woroch was the first to comment saying that he firmly objected to a continuance being granted.

“If you give them a continuance today, all the work, all the money we spend on travel expenses to come here, all the effort we put into coming down to fight, we’ll have to do again.  We came here, ready to fight, and this needs to be settled today,” Woroch passionately explained.

With a petition of 455 names in hand and 50 more names being added while he was on the stand from La Valencia, Woroch was able to clearly show the communities discontent with this proposal.

Following Woroch’s comments a young woman stood up and asked the audience to raise their hand if they wanted a continuance granted.  In the crowded room, one person raised their hand.  When asked who did not want the continuance granted, everyone in the audience, except that one man raised their hand.  It was pretty apparent what the community wanted, regardless of how fluffy the marketing vision was or could have been.

Woroch has already been active on here in explaining his point of view:

This is not about being for or against RV’ers. It is simply a matter that an RV park belongs “in an off the main road location “. La Borgata is not the right location for an RV park, be it a Class A, B, C, etc.

The developer keeps pointing to Heritage Resort in Orange Beach, Al.  Well , that resort is WATERFRONT with it’s own beach and a marina.

It is off the main road and the property around the compound is not with pre-existing single family homes. The developers of the Orange Beach resort gave forethought into the project and found the right location for their project.

The developers of La Borgata have no business plan. They are trying to fit a business into a substructure. This type of scrambling is destined to a high probability of failure. They have already failed once, scrambling now will lead them to fail again.

They ought to look to Signature Resort in Naples , FL. They have been there 3 years and have 184 slots. When speaking to a sales person there, I was informed that they have had ZERO sales since their inception. Now, they are putting 20 slots up for auction on Feb. 26, 2011, with no reserve, no minimum bid. If you bid $100.00, and there is no higher bidder, it is yours.

The proposal for a RV park has been withdrawn by Nashyork,LLC, for the time being. But they better realize that the community has been awakened and we will continue to organize and mobilize to get more home owners on board from the west end to the east end to speak with one voice . We, the people, will have a voice in what, where, when and how things are being decided by the Planning Board and / or the City Council.

We will not allow for slip shod tactics to go unnoticed. We will bring it to the forefront any and every time they try to pull a fast one. Business as usual is over.

Not all investments are winners. Some win, some lose. We all know that you should never invest money if you cannot afford to lose it all.

When asked, the engineer representing the developer, Robert Carol, said he wasn’t sure what they were going to do with the property now.  But, one thing was sure, they weren’t going to be developing a motor coach community.

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1 Barbara December 17, 2010 at 11:08 am

I agree with Dr. Luby Woroch. He is a fine, compassionate and intelligent physician who cares about people. That area is a beach front community and vary valuable. I wish the rest of Panama City Beach would realize how valuable our property really is. We just can’t accept anything, just because things are not going so great in the economy right now. The developers should build one building at a time in LaBorgata and advertise internationally. They will sell. Just look at the sales in Rivera Beach this month. Things are improving.
Look, everyone, we need to take pride in our community and do area beautification.

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2 G December 21, 2010 at 8:54 am

Thank goodness. That was NOT a place for an RV park.

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3 Lynn Munyon December 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

This is what the world is coming to…”not in my back yard”. No offense to that heighborhood, but this is a major improvement. They are acting like this development is “trailer trash”. I am a recent motorhome owner and if they can put one in Breckenridge Colorado, then they can put one in the “Redneck Riviera”-a title that I hate. I lived there 30 years and what they have allowed is amazing. Al least Walton County held the building height to 50′. Where were these “purists”? This is beyond foolish. It makes me want to build one just across Phillips Inlet, where one is on “hold”. Our property rights have been trashed, just like the Congress. I am a citizen for righteous development and this is perfect example. -Citizen L

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4 Cathy December 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

This has truly been a very interesting story to follow….. yet, I have followed it without making comments until today.
It is apparent the people of this neighboring community do not want an RV Park as their neighbors but, on the other hand I surly hope the community understands the major difference between an RV motor home and”trailer” parks.
As a faithful visitor to PCB I prefer to stay in many of the fine condo’s…. that is what my family likes but, there are so many family’s who spend thousands of dollars on RV’s….. this is what they enjoy traveling and touring in.
To me as a traveler/tourist/visitor of PCB this decision really seems a little bias……. especially when you read articles wanting to promote tourism to PCB. Do any of you actually know how much these tourist spend on the purchase of an RV? Or I might add do you even care? Another way to look at this is, if you do not provide a nice upstanding “park” for these RV travelers in an area that is close to the beach & attractions… then it is PCB revenue that will suffer. It’s almost the (double sword) theory.
As I recall there are (2) such RV parks down on Thomas Dr. that welcome traveling tourist…. they are both well maintained as I can see from the road.
I guess this is enough said….. I always tend to think of other people before myself, what I believe others should do also.
If there is a loss here I believe it to be of hundreds and hundreds of tourist to PCB that travel in RV, they will go elsewhere to vacation if there is not another such park built.
Thank you,
Cathy/Tennessee

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