Major expansion will give motorcoaches s’more room

EMPIRE – Sleepy Bear Campground isn't so sleepy anymore. Not with major construction designed to entice the highest rollers in the RV milieu.

The campground just east of Empire is undergoing a huge facelift to accommodate luxury motor coaches. The new development, Indigo Bluffs, will be built for Class A motorhomes, according to Allan Reed. Reed, a Glen Arbor resident and Realtor, worked with one of his past clients on a plan to purchase and refurbish the campground.

"Gary Becker from the Detroit area had been a client of mine for years. My wife, Ann, and I had been RVers before we moved to Michigan, and I talked to Gary about RVs," said Reed.

"We thought there was a good opportunity for the big rigs, the Class A ones that are 102 inches wide and have rooms that slide out. The other RV parks can't accommodate them. They're too big and need too much power."

The idea is now turning into reality. Becker and Reed hired the Traverse City engineering firm of Mansfield and Associates, which designed the sites. Reed said the firm worked to create a design that maximized the use of the area in terms of its beauty rather than shoehorning in as many sites as possible.

"We wanted to make it unique," Reed said. "We went away from the side-by- side configuration to a quad design. There's 75 feet between them – that's just unheard of. It's a great way of creating privacy, and we only lost one site (compared to a more conventional layout)."

While there will be some sites set aside for rental, most will be available for sale at prices from $85,000 to $130,000, though there is some pre-construction pricing available. The goal is to sell the sites and then, at the owner's discretion, they may be put into the rental program.

Phase One is now underway, with 21 of the 40 sites to open by early July. Phase two will follow with an additional 50 sites. Indigo Bluffs is located to the left upon entering the site off M-72, while the cabins and campsites of Sleepy Bear are still available to the right.

The Class A motorhomes are the largest RVs, reaching lengths in excess of 40 feet. They often boast amenities such as televisions, DVD players, microwaves, washers, dryers and dishwashers, and sliders, which allow for greater widths for living than would be possible otherwise. The cost for such a vehicle can range from $10,000 for smaller used ones to more than $1 million, depending on the size, age, quantity and quality of the amenities.

Reed says many of the owners of such rigs also make use of such things as firepits, sheds and outdoor kitchens when available, and they will be adding additional outdoor amenities. There are also plans to add another pool, and the expansion and renovation of the general store is already underway. BN