Copperas Cove developer bringing back Joy Drive-In as RV park
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Some longtime Covites may remember the evenings back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s when they would pile into the family car and head to the edge of town and line up to watch movies at the Joy Drive In.
Its iconic screen still stands set back from F.M. 2657, and a Copperas Cove woman is working to bring the Joy Drive In back – but in a slightly different form.
Jodie Nobles Lopez is the owner and broker of the Noble Group Realtors, and her main focus has been helping real estate clients buy and sell properties, and developing residential real estate herself. However, this project is a special one to her and a little different than what she’s worked on before.
The Joy RV Park will become a short-term and long-term affordable option for those who call Copperas Cove home.
The drive-in’s former concession stand has already been remodeled into a duplex. Nobles said she can’t walk into the duplex without recalling moments such as when her mom and aunt took her to see movies like Urban Cowboy. She said she still flashes back to remembering buying candy and popcorn as a seven-year-old.
“My first husband’s daddy owned all the theaters in town, and eventually owned Cinema Video, and he would tell stories about the old Joy Drive In. So, it kind of came full circle when we went out there to buy it. I thought, we can do something with this grass out there. It was just in horrible condition, eight-foot-tall grass, just a mess. It was just forgotten.”
For the RV park in her vision, amenities will include a swimming pool, playground, outdoor fire pit, a game room, and more. They’ve already put in a chicken coop that will provide future residents with fresh eggs and there are also plans for a community garden on site, also for residents.
“What I’ve found in selling real estate is, I had a lot of clients that wanted out of their houses and wanted to live full-time in their RVs. There just wasn’t a whole lot of space with any amenities for these people to go to.”
Nobles also has plans for mini-storage so residents can have storage options, along with backup power capabilities.
There will be spots for permanent RV set-ups, and also covered options for those with pull-through vehicles.
The property also has creekside frontage, where Nobles has plans for picnic tables and grills along the creek.
In her business, she has seen the changing winds of the real estate market and sees the revitalized drive-in as an option for housing.
“With the market the way it is, this can become the low-income housing of the future. And that’s been really important to me. I’d like to take the profit from this development and reinvest it into another project that would help lower income families have affordable homes,” Nobles said.
There will be some permanently fixed structures that will be affordable housing options for residents, and there will be some short-term rentals available as well. For example, there are some families who are “in between” homes while selling and buying a new home, or new families who come to the Fort Hood area and haven’t found a home just yet.
“We’re always running into the soldiers that don’t have housing right away, so we wanted to be able to offer them short-term rentals. Having short-term rentals in between selling a house and being able to move into the next house has also been a huge problem in our market.”As for the old movie screen, Nobles has big plans. Initially she didn’t see it as a possibility to use the old screen for movies and had planned to hire a mural artist.
However, recently she found an option that will light the screen up with movies again for the residents.
Nobles initially purchased the property late last year, and hopes to have it up and running by the summer of 2023, in plenty of time for the next big event that will be drawing thousands of people to the Copperas Cove area – the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, with the city being in the path of totality.