An Odessa firefighter saw new opportunity in the pasture of land he owned just south of JBS Parkway amid a new oil boom that’s brought increasingly scarce housing and rising costs of renting a room.
Ryan Jones, a fireman and paramedic, moonlights as the owner of a landscaping business. And he envisioned using his more than 2-acre plot of land near an industrial park to store equipment. Now, with the city’s blessing, he plans to transform the land he’s owned for four years into workforce housing.
Along with a partner, Jones said he is investing about $400,000 to develop an RV park. To gauge the demand, Jones said he needed to look no further than the RVs parked at Walmart on any given day.
“Housing is a big issue, the lack of housing,” Jones said. “People are forced to purchase RVs, but when they do there is nowhere to go.”
The Odessa City Council earlier this month approved an industrial district agreement with Jones that will allow the park to benefit from city services, such as water. The City Council also granted him an exemption to city spacing requirements that allows him to create lots for 50 RVs.
“This project is a workforce housing development,” City Manager Michael Marrero said. “…I wouldn’t call it a man camp. But it’s to serve that need for that housing.”
Jones said he hopes to open the park this fall and will employ fellow firefighters to help build it. Unlike a man camp, the park won’t have shared facilities like a dining hall. But it will have a laundry area. Jones said he plans to pay for landscaping and security at the park.
Without the recent City Council vote, Jones said the city’s rules did not distinguish between mobile home and RV parks, he would have had to devote 3,000 square feet to each RV. If Jones ever stops using the land for an RV park, the agreement with the city requires him to clean it up.
Jones said he expects to rent the spaces for tenants to bring their RVs for about $175 a week.
“A lot of people – they come and then they go,” Jones said. “They don’t want to buy a house, so this is an option for individuals, whether it be workers or families, that are living here for a few years and don’t plan on staying. This gives them the ability to not be tied down to a home.”