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Cokato Lake RV Resort
By Aimee Blanchette, Star Tribune
Last update: August 19, 2006 – 12:30 PM

Looking for a place to share more quality time with family and friends on the weekends, the Akervik family combed Minnesota lakeshore in search of a modest lake cabin.

Instead, they found out-of-reach prices, less-than-desirable properties and then a more affordable alternative. They bought a “park model” RV and a lot near a playground at the Cokato Lake RV Resort for about $70,000.

“We couldn’t find a quality lake for our price range, and for what we could get we would have had to pump in another $20,000 to $40,000 to get the cabin in workable condition,” Trevor Akervik said. “We didn’t want to be pulling campers around, shelling out campground fees and gas money. We wanted a place we could go to, put our groceries in the fridge and start our weekend.”

With lakeshore prices at record levels, many weekend retreat seekers are turning to campgrounds where they park RVs on lots they buy or rent as a more affordable alternative to a traditional cabin on a lake.

The estimated value of a vacation home last year was $300,000, according to a survey of second-home owners by the National Association of Realtors. Those who can’t spend that much don’t have to be left out. “You can get on a decent lake and do it all for less than $100,000,” Akervik said. “I think that’s pretty attractive to a lot of people who don’t make $300,000 a year.”

That’s why park model-style RVs are growing in popularity. Typically, they have about 400 square feet and are designed for part-time use. Even with upscale amenities, such as bay windows, lofts, whirlpool tubs and gas fireplaces, their average price is $38,000. That’s less than the cost of a mobile home of about the same size and a fraction of what it costs to build a home.

And that’s part of the reason that park model shipments nationally were up 8 percent in 2005, the highest annual sales in the 20-year history of the park-model business, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association. The outdoor retail giant, Cabela’s, has added park model cabins to its product line.

Resort conversion
The Akerviks shopped for their park model with their friends, the McCanns, and ultimately bought adjacent lots. Even after paying for their “cabins” and lots, they had enough money left over to eventually add decks and landscaping to improve their lots and buy golf carts to cruise around the campground. Plus, they’re crossing their fingers that the value of the lots will increase and eventually they’ll be able to apply that equity toward the four-season cabins they’ve always wanted.

It’s not just budget-conscious buyers who are driving the trend. With land values rising, more resort owners are struggling to stay in business on their seasonal incomes. That’s why some are converting their resorts into for-sale RV parks and cooperatives.


By Jason Amundsen – TwoWordy Writers
Summary: Owning a RV lot on a lake is an inexpensive alternative to a traditional cabin.
In the lakeshore market, if you don’t have a spare quarter million dollars for a starter cabin, then you’ve been relegated to renting one. But Mark Weber, owner of Lakeshore Ventures, has a vision. It includes middle class kids in water wings and fixed income couples walking hand-in-hand along their shoreline at sunset.
Weber purchased Cokato Lake RV Resort in Cokato, Minnesota two years ago and has been testing a new business model that reaches the large, untapped market of budget conscious lakeshore buyers. By offering affordable cooperative ownership of lakeside parcels, his gamble seems to be paying off.

Lakeshore Ventures converted the former RV Park from a privately owned business to a cooperative model. Now all 222-lot owners have an equal say in how their jointly owned property is managed. Also by pooling responsibility for the 60-acres worth of grounds and amenities maintenance, lot owners at Cokato Lake bypass much of the routine responsibilities and headaches associated with cabin ownership. “Owners get their lawns mowed, a slip at the dock that’s put in and pulled out each season and a heated swimming pool,” said Weber, who is conscious that even if a family can scrape together the cash for a cabin, they may not be up for the upkeep.

Another interesting aspect of cooperative ownership is the resort-style activities. In addition to the playground, mini-golf, tennis and basketball courts, the cooperative owners of Cokato Lake RV Resort have an activities committee. “There are events every weekend in the pavilion, a band stage and theater with surround sound,” says Weber. “And there are always pot luck dinners. The sense of community is definitely an attraction.”

Changing marketplace affecting resort ownership

According to Weber, the traditional mom and pop-owned family resort is fading away. The economics of resort ownership are changing and causing RV parks and resorts to convert from rental to private ownership. Twenty-five years ago, in Minnesota, there were 6,000 resorts. Now that number hovers around 700. Escalating lakeshore prices are driving small operators out of business.

This new brand of privately owned RV resorts is creating win-win situations for both developers and lot owners. For $75,000 buyers can own a lot and a park-model [a stationary RV] with even a loft, with just a $37.00 a month association fee, which covers almost everything. “Look at the market right now,” said Lakeshore Ventures’ Weber, “there’s really no other option out there in the $75,000 to $250,000 category. It’s no surprise that it’s gone over so well.”

Potential buyers are always interested in the particulars of the individual resort’s association and management, according to ReMax Realtor Warren Selix who sells the RV lots on Cokato Lake. “We’ve been selling the lots for two seasons, with 126 of the 222 sites now off the market,” said Selix. “This is a new concept and I spend a lot of my time educating potential buyers, but after awhile people understand that they’re able to get unbeatable amenities, reasonable prices, and are only a one-hour drive from the Twin Cities. This is simply a great value.”

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Cokato Lake RV Resort in Cokato MN Minnesota