The sale of three campgrounds in Florida’s midsection is leaving snowbirds without a winter home and may represent a growing trend toward high-dollar development, according to an article in The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
Secret Lake Camp Resort, a 1,000-acre campground and RV site, along with Raccoon Lake and All-Seasons RV Resort – all located in a growing area called Four Corners and previously owned by Travel America – have been bought up by developers. Raccoon Lake and Secret Lake closed last year and All-Seasons is expected to follow.
“I’ve talked to some people at Travel America,” said Rob Cochran, president of Camping Connection Inc., which services RVs. “They’ve been coming here for 20 years. They go to the churches down here. All their friends are here. They’ve made homes down here for years and years, and now they don’t know where to go.”
Although none of the camps have been developed yet, Cochran – who serves on the Four Corners Leads Group, an umbrella group under the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce – said it’s widely expected that the camps will eventually be developed as high-income vacation rental properties.
Cochran said it’s a troubling trend for snowbirds on fixed incomes who have relied on the campgrounds for decades as a source of housing in Central Florida during the winter months.
“The snowbirds looking for a place to stay are getting squeezed out,” he said.
The problem stems from the rapid growth in Four Corners, located just southwest of Orlando, and has prompted the formation of a special council.
Marc Reicher, who is expected to become the council’s first president, is aware of the region’s enormous appeal and future growth potential.
“I think Four Corners is a real special area to be the fastest growing corridor over this period of time,” he said. “I think the growth has been very impressive in infrastructure as well, even beyond residential, and that will bring commercial enterprises here.”
Still, Cochran said he worries that the rapid growth is taking away something that made the region special, including RV parks that admittedly did not attract high-end customers to the area.
“The campground situation is the only one getting hurt at this point,” he said. “The furniture business, the real estate people, the accountants, the bankers – everyone else is absolutely loving all this.”