KALKASKA – Two fast-growing industries are settling on a piece of land in Kalkaska County.
Pine Brook Properties is developing a self-storage facility as well as an RV park of over 200 locations on 80 acres of commercially zoned property along M-72 just west of the Village of Kalkaska . The development aims to provide more available options for storage and camping in the area, a problem for several years exacerbated by the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of demand right now,” said Jordan Development Company chief operating officer Ben Brower, who manages the Pine Brook project and is one of the minority owners. “They are all full.”
With the storage portion of the project moving forward first, bringing the RV park to the property is what Brower is most excited about. Bob Boeve, the project’s majority owner, has owned the 80-acre property on the north side of M-72 for about 20 years, Brower said.
Brower, who is joined by Ben Leggett as a minority owner, said both projects will have a big impact on the village.
“We are excited to build a development,” he said of Pine Brook. “Our goal is to bring some economic development to Kalkaska County through job creation and people will also spend money in the town if we build a campground.”
Laura Hendricks, Kalkaska Zoning Administrator and Soil Erosion Officer, said the special use permit for the two Pine Brook projects was unanimously approved in February.
But not everyone — or at least one person — is behind the proposed RV park, which has been approved by the county and is going through the state permitting process with the Department of Environment. , Great Lakes and Michigan Energy (EGLE). A few weeks after putting up a sign near M-72 announcing the upcoming arrival of Pine Brook RV Park, someone painted “Go Home” green on one side of the sign.
Brower said he was unsure if this was a reference to the dispute between developers and the Township of Milton Planning Commission over rejected plans for an RV park in Torch River because it did not meet zoning requirements to alter the site as little as possible, according to several previous Record-Eagle articles. Public sentiment also seemed against this proposed park.
“I don’t know what they mean,” Brower said. ” I do not know who did that. We spoke to neighbours, especially those to the north. We want to be good neighbors to the community around us.
Brower moved from Florida to Kalkaska in 1990 when his parents, Steve and Jan Brower, and his five siblings decided to start building the Starwood Ranch Christian Retreat. Ben Brower graduated from Kalkaska in 1993, the year the school district closed prematurely due to financial difficulties.
“I’m home,” he said in response to the graffiti.
Brower said he was not interested in making the RV Park anything other than a place where he would like to have an RV for a week.
He said all sites will be fully hooked up and there are plans to have the campground off the road and away from traffic noise.
“We don’t want to make it a concrete park,” he said. “We want it to stay forested, with the aim of cutting as few trees as possible. We also want activities for kids like bike paths, running track (remote controlled), disc golf, that sort of thing.
“I want a canopy of trees over my head and some space between sites. I want to make it a place I want to go.
Based in Traverse City, Jordan Development is an oil and gas exploration and development company. The company has also initiated the development of planned commercial and residential units of Ashland Park in Garfield Township, near the intersection of Garfield and Birmley Roads.
This includes 256 Ashland Storage units built in seven buildings over the past three years at 1067 N. Rusch Road.
“We’re 100% full with a waiting list of 30-40 people,” Brower said.
Phase I of Pine Brook Storage in Kalkaska is expected to bring 72 total units in three buildings on 4½ acres of the property this fall. The land has been cleared and concrete poured and Brower is planning an opening date of October 15.
“Like everyone else, we are waiting for material,” he said. “We ordered steel in March and it arrives September 2.”
The self-storage portion of Pine Brook will eventually provide 40,000 square feet of storage space spread over eight buildings with 24 storage units each.
Hailed as “a recession-proof industry”, the global self-storage market was valued at over $48 billion in 2020 and is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 5.45% from 2021 to 2026, reaching 64 $.71 billion, according to a March 30 article on commercial real estate site REJournals.
Camping has also seen a major resurgence in popularity. He said some families even use the available WiFi to stay beyond the holidays, working remotely during the day and doing a family activity.
“It’s hard to get a campsite,” Brower said. “Six months later, everything is booked. People are flocking to camping and want to buy motorhomes.
Such is the case with campgrounds in Kalkaska, which has a variety of private, state, and county facilities. The largest campground is the 100-site Kalkaska Park and Campground at 580 M-72. The county-run Log Lake Campground at 2475 Log Lake Road Northeast has 39 sites, while the Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground has 35 tent and RV sites.
Joe and Tina Cooper and their daughter, Jessica, have operated Kalkaska RV Park & Campground since purchasing the facility in 2019. Joe Cooper said Kalkaska RV Park and Campground is “doing very well this year” after a record in 2021.
He said another park would do well because demand doesn’t seem to be dropping.
“I’m confident there are more than enough camping opportunities for everyone,” he said.
Cooper added that his park attracts families from the north, but also appeals to local patrons looking for a change of scenery.
He said it’s not uncommon for people to book the same site for the following year when they leave the park.
“Our park tends to be a hub for people,” Cooper said. “They use our park for camping and then take day trips to different places in the area.”
Brower said Pine Brook RV Resort will use Timber Ridge southeast of Traverse City as the master plan for the Kalkaska County property. Brower said the EGLE permit process is slow and will run through the winter and hopefully finish in the spring of 2023.
“So we’ll see,” Brower said. “It depends on the funding and it depends on the economy.”
“We are excited to build a development. Our goal is to bring some economic development to Kalkaska County through job creation and people will also spend money in the town if we build a campground. Ben Brower, COO of Jordan Development Company