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Friday, August 20, 2021

Local Developer Exploring Luxury RV Park Project for Alexandria

Local developer Dave Clabeaux presents his idea for a luxury RV camp to the Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission

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by Robin Gee

Developer Dave Clabeaux, whose projects include office buildings in Newport and formerly Fort Thomas, is in the very early stages of exploring an idea for a high-end luxury RV camping site in Alexandria. He is looking at about 22 acres currently for sale near the corner of Moreland and Highway 27.

The project would not be a "trailer park" or even what most comes to mind when people think of RV camping.

"People used have small campers so they needed 20- and 30-foot lots, but now there are these big Class A motor coaches that cost a half million dollars and up, and they need 50-foot concrete lots with 50 amps of electricity," he explained.

Catering to and attracting people in these high-value motor coaches requires not only larger lots equipped with individual electricity, sewer and water, but also a host of amenities, preferably set within a wooded, camp-like setting, he said.

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Clabeaux listed off several amenities that would be available including a clubhouse or lodge, game room, laundry facilities, tennis courts, swimming pool, small store for essentials, shower facilities, outdoor patio, spaces for outdoor games like cornhole — all the things that create a fun, camp atmosphere.

The spots would be priced accordingly, he said. Some people who have large “fifth wheel” campers might also be interested in the spots, he noted, but they would be designed for the very large upscale RVs.

A Class A RV motor home can cost a half million dollars or more.


What the RV project might look like

"Our goal here is to build roughly 100 or 120 sites. built out for the campers and also maybe a dozen or so permanent cabins so that local people could rent them and use the amenities, enjoy the site as well," said Clabeaux.

"We want to keep as many of the trees as possible when developing the land. What we do not want to do is bulldoze everything down to have open land. We want to keep all the trees so it would have that camping feel to it, natural shade everywhere."

A full-time manager would be on site and available up to 10 to 12 hours a day, he said. The goal will be to provide whatever the visitors might need while vacationing in their RV. 

Clubhouse and pool at Pelican Lake RV Resort in Florida.


Taking advantage of a growing interest

Clabeaux noted that this form of camping is growing in popularity. "It’s a really neat concept. There are a couple thousand of these [parks] all over the country. There’s a whole world of camping and RVing...It’s really popular for people in their retirement to live in these and just travel around the country," he said.

While many of these RV sites are near well-known tourist destinations, having one here "would give people close access to Cincinnati, to major league football, major league baseball, the bourbon trail just south of here," he said. "So, the location would be a big destination with all the attractions, Kentucky state parks, Mammoth Cave and all that fun stuff."

In addition to the tax revenue, Clabeaux noted that the site "will also bring in 100-plus families a day who are in vacation mode into Alexandria, and they’d be spending money at all the local businesses."

Exploring the issue in terms of zoning

Clabeaux brought the idea to a recent Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to find out about zoning in the area and to gauge interest and possible questions that could arise.

The land he is interested in is zoned Highway Commercial, but according to Alexandria Planning and Zoning Administrator Carol Hofstetter, RV camp is not a listed use in the zone. In fact, there are not any zones in Alexandria that specifically cover this use or type of project. Camping is listed as a use in recreational areas, she said, but nothing quite like a year-round, luxury vacation RV business.

Several commissioners said they were intrigued by the idea and wanted to know more. They asked Hofstetter and city attorney Mike Duncan to research the idea and come up with potential zoning possibilities for such a project.

Hofstetter asked Clabeaux to wait before developing his plans further until the city could explore the issue. 

The property at Moreland and Highway 27, where the proposed RV resort could be developed.

The developer acknowledged that one challenge for the project would be the logistics of having large vehicles turning into and out of the property onto Highway 27. Ideally, he said, turning lanes would be created to accommodate. Should the project move into the serious planning process, the state transportation department would become involved through its jurisdiction over the highway.

If an appropriate zone is found, the developer will need to proceed to request a zone change, contact the state about the highway and attend a public meeting to get community input on his idea. If all goes well, Clabeaux would then develop a more complete site plan for review and consideration.

"This is a long-term project, but we’d like to get started as soon as possible. Obviously, we need to contact the state, work on the zoning. We’d have a community hearing to make sure the community is okay with the project. But, we are ready to go right away provided we get clearance from the community."

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