Conceptual site study of the Waterfront RV Park courtesy City of Eureka.

Eureka may soon have a new waterfront RV park with views of Woodley Island, Humboldt Bay and the Samoa Peninsula.

At Tuesday evening’s regular meeting, the Eureka City Council will be asked to give staff the go-ahead to pursue development companies for a project that would eventually include both the RV park, on the east side of Samoa Bridge, and a future mixed-use development on property on the west side.

Perhaps no property in Humboldt County has been subject to as many proposals and planned developments over the past 30 years than these two bay-front parcels at the north end of Eureka. Robert Halvorsen, whose name adorns the adjacent park, wanted to build an eight-story luxury Hilton Hotel and Convention Center there.

The city acquired the property in 1987 and in its prepared request for qualifications (RFQ) staff claims, “These two parcels represent one of the greatest waterfront development opportunities in Northern California.”

Early proposals included a Radisson Hotel, a children’s park (featuring a boat ride, amphitheater and wading pool), and a museum/aquarium. But the property was tied up in bankruptcy proceedings until 1996, when the city gained full ownership.

In 2004 Eureka businessman Rob Arkley proposed an upscale RV park, restaurant and convenience store through one of his many corporations, but that project never got past the conceptual stage.

Since then the various proposals have included a massive aquatic wellness center, another hotel, an eco-hostel, a conference center and more. All fell through, for one reason for another. Now, with the property languishing and the city strapped for cash, staff is making a concerted push to see the property developed and generating income.

The city-owned property runs under the southernmost expanse of the Samoa Bridge, on the north edge of Eureka. | Image courtesy City of Eureka.

Eureka Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery said that with the city’s harbor fund in a deficit, staff has been looking at ways to decrease costs and increase revenue. This current proposal would seek a company to purchase the 11-acre property through a 20-year lease agreement, with rent starting at $1,500 per month and increasing after 18 months to $4,000 per month. Once the RV park is up and running the lessee could trigger the option to buy the property. 

With the parcels zoned waterfront commercial, Slattery said the RV park would require a conditional use permit. Options for the proposed mixed-use development on the other side of the bridge could include a hotel or maybe retail buildings with residences on the second floor, Slattery said.

“What we’re trying to do here is ensure something happens with that property,” Slattery said. “It’s pretty well known for inappropriate uses down there. … We want to make sure something feasible happens.”

The city currently has a lease with the Humboldt Bay Rowing Association, which operates a boathouse on the “Old Mill” site west of Samoa Bridge. That lease would remain intact under new ownership, Slattery said, and the city would maintain an easement for the area directly under the bridge, including the boat launch.

You can take a closer look at the plans in the city’s RFQ packet (click here). The proposed RV park would cover nearly five acres and include 44 spaces, two toilets, two showers and additional parking, plus an automated gate opening onto the city’s boat launch facility.

Earlier this year the city secured funding to build a 6.3-mile waterfront trail, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and will run along this property. Staff says in the RFQ that this is yet another reason to move ahead now.

“With the Eureka Waterfront Trail nearing completion, the City of Eureka feels that now is the most opportune time to re-open the opportunity of developing a destination RV Park.”

The Eureka City Council meeting will take place at City Hall Tuesday starting at 6 p.m.