Residents in an Arizona RV resort who invested in park model trailers or casita homes have been sent notices by the developer and landowner that the park will close in 2006.
According to the Sierra Vista Herald, eight casita owners in the Pueblo del Sol RV Resort will be affected by the decision. Castle & Cooke Arizona Inc. said it plans to build a new housing development, which the firm views as a more profitable use for its property.
“They (Castle & Cooke) sold park models to seniors knowing they bought them as homes for long-term placement in Pueblo del Sol, and not solely for recreational use,” argues John A. Lawyer, one of the residents who is outraged by the change. “Many of us invested a great deal of money in permanent upgrades for our homes, with the understanding that we would be here long-term.”
When Castle & Cooke opened the RV park in 2001, the developer’s vision was to establish a retirement community, specifically for RVs and the more permanent park models, said Rick Coffman, vice president.
But the RV business turned out to be seasonal, and the park models never really took off the way the company anticipated.
“This is an industrywide phenomenon,” Coffman said. “Our new plan is to take the area we set aside for RVs and park models and use it for housing.”
Park models, Coffman maintains, are on leased land, and all leases are subject to change. It’s something those entering into the lease should have considered before deciding to place permanent structures on the lots.
“Unlike a house, a park model depreciates, so those that were purchased five years ago, aren’t worth much today,” Coffman said. “So you have people living on a leased lot, with property that depreciates a little more every year.”
Coffman first alluded to a possible change in the RV park’s status during a March 2005 meeting where he discussed some of Castle & Cooke’s development plans with the residents.
At that meeting, they were told about new construction for a development called Holiday at Pueblo del Sol, located adjacent to the RV resort.
“It was still unclear what we were going to be doing, as we were in the process of evaluating plans for future use of that property,” Coffman said.
Residents say they would have considered other options for their retirement property if they had been given any indication that Castle & Cooke could change its plans for the RV park.
“Not once was there any forewarning from Pueblo del Sol or Castle & Cooke that we should be careful about how much we added on,” said resident Barb Short.
Coffman said Castle & Cooke is looking at individual cases and is trying to determine a fair compromise in dealing with those who will be impacted by the park’s closure. As far as finding a comparable RV park, he admits there aren’t any in the Sierra Vista area.