Rory Matheny has always had his eyes on the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

His dream was to build a recreational vehicle park on the Interstate 5 corridor. He already owns and operates two parks on the Oregon Coast but the Eugene native knew the potential of a park on I-5, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported.

“Visibility is a driving factor. It’s the root of property development. Traffic along the freeway creates a lot of opportunity,” said Matheny, who finally got his wish and opened Emerald Valley RV Park near Jefferson earlier this year.

Right off the North Jefferson exit, the park covers just under 5 acres and has 52 RV sites, more than half of those designated for overnight stay.

“At the coast parks, most rentals are month-to-month. This one is tailored to the overnighter,” Matheny said.

About halfway between Albany and Salem, Emerald Valley has been nearly two years in the making. Matheny bought the property in 2008 and opened it to RVs on May 1 of this year.

“We were trying to do this right in the middle of the financial meltdown,” Matheny said. “But we didn’t see a drop at our other parks so we stayed with it.”

Matheny’s decision on the Jefferson site was influenced by a theme he is promoting to lure campers.

“I liked the appeal of the countryside and it’s in the middle of wine country,” he said. “That’s something we wanted to take advantage of.”

Matheny has built relationships with several wineries in the vicinity and is conducting wine tours from his park. He is also planning to sponsor a regular harvest festival starting next month featuring local produce, wines, and arts and crafts.

“We sell propane to a lot of farmers and they’ve seen us grow. Something like this shows just what farm and wine country is all about,” Matheny said.

Sites are equipped with high speed Wi-Fi and satellite HD television hookups, and the finishing touches are being put on a clubhouse for visitors. New showers and bathrooms are in place and soon a full-service kitchen will be up and running. Matheny also plans to open a deli and espresso shop.

Matheny said he caters to members of various RV clubs and his overnight traffic has been steady since opening.

“The month-to-month sites are just starting to fill up,” he said.

He says his site offers opportunity for visitors to take advantage of Albany’s historic sites to the south and the state capital to the north. He is also hoping to work with the University of Oregon and Oregon State once football season starts.

“We want to leverage all of it. Football days are big business,” Matheny said.

Emerald Valley employs three park hosts and a general manager. Matheny also maintains his coast parks in Lincoln City and Tillamook and is in the early stages of developing a fourth property in Woodland, Wash.

A graduate of Sacramento State University, Matheny worked in the computer business for 10 years before switching to commercial real estate in 2004. He bought his first park, Salmon River in Lincoln City, in 2006.

“This new park is encouraging. The city of Jefferson has been very supportive,” he said.

Emerald Valley is at 11223 Hochspeier Road S.E. in Jefferson, just off I-5 exit 244. The park can be reached at 503-363-0701 or online at www.emeraldvalley-rvp.com.