Venture Out was first conceived of in 1968 as a possible solution for the rapidly increasing leisure activity of ‘travel trailers’ that were appearing on America’s highways. Early enthusiasts found that they were often disappointed in RV park accommodations, when, they were able to find them. Back then they were looking for the basics; clean bathrooms, a pool, maybe a tennis court, a clubhouse would be a bonus.
Two entrepreneurs, Hazen Kreis and Bob Epperson, were able to put their dreams down on paper and built their first resort on the banks of Lake Tansi In Tennessee. When the word got out, they had more applicants for the RV spots than they had accommodations. So of course, they built a second Venture Out, in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Things progressed rapidly and soon the two partners were developing four more Venture Out resorts, in Cudjoe Key, Panama Beach City and St. Lucie Florida, all based on ocean and beach front recreation and at the same time developed Mesa Arizona as the largest community of the six.
A twelve-sided design was used for the club houses and bathhouses in Florida that was supposed to withstand hurricanes, the same design was modified for Arizona. Two communities, Panama City and Cudjoe Keys both recently took direct hits from hurricanes and those 50-year-old buildings withstood winds that otherwise caused massive damage across the parks.
When Kreis and Epperson were in the early stages of development, they realized they needed a partner with deep pockets and convinced Gulf Oil Corporation to come on board. This is perhaps one of the best things that happened to Venture Out. Since Gulf Oil’s business was oil and pipelines, Venture Out at Mesa benefited by having some of the best heavy-duty PVC pipe that was currently in the market, installed for water and sewer lines.
Venture Out started as 200 acres of cotton, onions and barley and was developed originally into 1752 RV spaces. Three of those spaces became driveways into the far corners of the property and unfortunately the North West corner was sold off in the early stages of development, leaving only 160 acres. Ownership of the lots was key. Lots were originally offered at $3900 a space and the first lot was sold in January of 1970.
All six Venture Outs began to evolve in different directions dictated by their natural surroundings. The Venture Outs in Tennessee are located next to State and National park lands and take advantage of the boating and fishing activities. The Florida Venture Outs are all based on the ocean & beach lifestyle, and many owners have boats docked next to their homes.
Venture Out at Mesa evolved into an activity-based community, focusing greatly on sports, hobbys and club activities. Five Venture Out’s started off as family communities and retain that today. Venture Out at Mesa was different however and started off with the concept of Adults Only.
In 1988, Federal Fair Housing Laws made Adults Only communities illegal and only 55 Plus or 62 plus communities were legal. Venture Out had to go through the process of satisfying the federal law and applied for that legal designation. Owners that were under 55 at the time, could still be owners but from that day forward, every unit sold or occupied had to have at least one owner who was 55 years of age.
Originally Venture Out was designated for only ‘travel trailers’ but through the years, the owners have voted to change their governing documents to first allow park models, then allow an attached awning, then the attached awning was allowed to be developed as an Arizona room and finally the Arizona rooms were allowed to raised to the same height as the park model. All these changes were voted on by the lot owners. Who knows what further evolution’s in design lot owners will approve in the years ahead?
When Venture Out opened in 1970, only the Administration building and Bathhouse # 1 were built. The Community Center was completed in December of 1970. The West Pool was also completed around the same time. All the other buildings, courts and club facilities were gradually added over time spanning a period of twenty years. By 2002 when Venture Out was 32 years old, the aging facilities began to present problems and were less desirable to potential new owners than more modern communities. It was then that Long Range Planning started and Venture Out began a new round of building and updating their facilities to keep the community current and a place where future generations want to retire to.