The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has given final approval to an ordinance authorizing a lease agreement with Don’s Cab-Inns, LLC, of Vinton to offer cabin and yurt rentals at Explore Park.
The business is owned by Don and Melody Harrison, who were introduced to the board during the meeting on January 23 with the second and final reading of the ordinance.
The county signed a 99-year lease for Explore Park in 2013 with the Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority and developed a Master Plan laying out a detailed approach for providing recreational amenities through public and private offerings. Their vision is to develop the park into a destination facility both for local citizens and for tourists from beyond the Blue Ridge.
An Adventure Plan for Explore Park was approved in 2016 after extensive input from citizens in meetings held throughout the county. One component of the plan was providing overnight accommodations for park users, including cabins and camping.
Requests for Proposals for Overnight Accommodations were issued in March 2017. The responsive bidder was Don’s Cab-Inns. The Harrisons plan to build and operate 18 cabins and yurts at Explore Park. The structures will be placed in a temporary location in the spring and summer of 2018 until the infrastructure improvements are completed in the cabin camping area identified as Flex Pod A on the Adventure Park map.
Cabins and yurts will continue to be added until February 2020.
Nightly rates for the cabins and yurts will range from $50 to $150 depending upon the season of the year.
Roanoke County will provide the infrastructure to support the cabins and yurts at a cost estimated at $684,310—already budgeted in the fiscal year 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Plan as part of the Explore Park capital project.
The county will provide the infrastructure for electricity hook-ups, prepare sites for installation of cabins with gravel pads, provide a bathhouse facility and public water and sewer to the bathhouse facility on the leased premises adequate for the needs of fully occupied cabins and will maintain the bathhouse.
The county is also responsible for landscaping and preparing the entrance to the leased area with directional signage. They will add an asphalt road loop within Flex Pod A. One parking spot per cabin will be provided, along with daily trash pick-up and snow removal services.
The county is responsible for stormwater requirements in the Flex Pod A site.
Roanoke County will receive 10 percent of gross revenues from Don’s Cab-Inns, with the funds being used to support operations of the park. The company is required to maintain a general commercial liability policy with limits of liability of $2 million. The lease with Don’s Cab-Inns runs for five years with two additional five-year options, for a total of 15 years.
The Harrison’s have become well-known in Vinton and the surrounding area for their construction of the first “Tiny House” in the valley, built in Vinton and occupying a space of only about 800 square feet with an eye-catching and eye-pleasing Arched Cab-Inn design. One of their Cab-Inns appeared in last year’s Dogwood Festival Parade.
According to Don Harrison, “the Cab-Inns and Yurts will all be in one location to start with. If we see the need to expand, there are areas within the park that we can expand into. The location is just off of Rutrough Road, near the entrance to the Park on Chestnut Ridge Road. This is where the main utilities will enter into the park. Therefore, the Cab-Inn Campground will be one of the first areas to get these new utilities.”
“The Cab-Inn design is like the Arched Cab-Inn located in Vinton, although they are only about one fourth the size,” said Harrison. “They will have one queen size bed below and one full size bed in the loft above the queen–sleeping a maximum of four people.”
“There will be a small kitchenette area with microwave, coffee machine and small refrigerator,” Harrison said. “Each one will also have heat and AC. Cab-Inns will not have bathrooms, but there will be a nice bathhouse nearby.”
Harrison says the yurts are made by Pacific Yurts. They are 16 feet in diameter and will have a full-over-full bunk bed and a twin-over-twin bunk bed, sleeping a max of 6 people. The Yurts will have the same amenities as the cabins, except the Yurts will have bathrooms.
According to the lease agreement, construction and installation of the cabins is scheduled to begin in early February. The company may begin renting cabins to Explore Park visitors on or before July 1, 2018, after the infrastructure is complete in Flex Pod A.