NJ campground owner wants to be a ‘tiny home’ developer
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Along the Great Egg Harbor River is a secluded campground just off Thompson Lane, about 10 miles from Ocean City. The owner of the property wants to bring a west coast trend back east.
Paul St. James, 84, who lives mainly in Arizona, has owned the Egg Harbor River Resort for 30 years. He said he wants to build tiny homes on the property. Such homes have been featured on TV shows like "Tiny House Nation" and HGTV's "Tiny House, Big Living."
St. James said the homes are affordable and appeal to certain people.
Among them are younger adults who are just starting out but can't yet afford a starter home. St. James said a tiny home makes a great starter home because they can build equity off it.
Then there are those people who have fallen on hard times and may wind up living with family and friends until they can get back on their feet. St. James said they can go into a tiny home much more comfortably and it's not that expensive. Tiny homes do not have the high maintenance costs or the high tax costs of standard housing.
But the group that really appeals to St. James is the elderly. He said tiny homes benefit older people who are on a fixed income. Many older people have been living in the same home most of their lives, some as long as 40 years. As time marches on, it becomes harder to maintain the upkeep of that home. St. James said the older you get, the more you want to downsize, so tiny homes are perfect.
"There's virtually no maintenance to that. First of all, there's a warranty that covers everything for a year or two [...] and it's affordable," said St. James.
Tiny homes are normally less than 500 square feet. On the grounds of the Egg Harbor River Resort, St. James is looking at making them around 208 square feet.
"You won't believe what they can put in in 208 square feet," he said.
The homes cost roughly $50,000 and come with a kitchen, bathroom, one or two bedrooms, which St. James said can comfortably sleep six.
He said he's been getting a lot of interest in tiny homes from perspective buyers. Many people are just stumbling along the property saying they've been living in the area for years and didn't even know the river resort existed.
St. James said he believes this is the only place in New Jersey with tiny homes, adding that when he came back to the Garden State last summer, he didn't see any tiny homes in his travels through at least Cape May and Atlantic counties.
St. James, who plans to visit his campground next week, said he's been talking with home builders who seem interested in building these tiny homes.