Failed Idaho resort residents aim to revive skiing
August 6, 2010
BOISE, Idaho – Homeowners at a failed central Idaho resort want to resurrect ski lift operations next winter and are asking the state, a bankruptcy judge and creditors who are owed hundreds of millions to go along with their plan.
The Tamarack Municipal Association, which represents property owners at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, said they’d use some of their reserves to initiate a four-day, Thursday-through-Sunday ski season starting in December. The resort hasn’t had a ski season since mothballing the lifts in March 2009.
Its majority owner, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, is trying to find a buyer while the resort’s finances are sorted out in bankruptcy court.
Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group is among dozens of creditors trying to recover hundreds of millions in unpaid debts.
The homeowners said Thursday they have a business plan showing they could break even.
Two ski lifts that are subject to litigation because Bank of America’s leasing unit wants to repossess them wouldn’t be operated, according to the plan. The five lifts that would be used provide access to most of the skiing terrain on 7,700-foot West Mountain.
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The homeowners would likely have to work out an agreement with the state, because the resort failed to pay its $250,000 annual lease for state land where most ski runs are located, and another payment is due next year. Homeowners pledged to make a “substantial payment” in exchange for a winter recreation season.
“That’s one of the things that will need to be resolved,” said Scott Peyron, a spokesman for the homeowners who hope their proposal can go before the Idaho Land Board in September.
Season passes would cost $199.
A lawyer for the Idaho Department of Land said getting all the players on board and reopening the resort, even for limited skiing, likely won’t be easy.
“All of the interested parties are going to have to sit down and say, ‘This makes sense,’ ” said Robert Follett, a deputy attorney general, adding any deal wouldn’t release Tamarack from its obligation to make good on its underlying lease.
A Credit Suisse Group spokeswoman in New York declined to comment.
Last year, the bank opposed a plan by some owners to fire up lifts with a $7.9 million loan from a Mexican real estate investor. That deal collapsed amid opposition from the Swiss bankers to provisions ensuring the Mexican lender would be repaid before other creditors who are already owed more than $300 million.
Peyron said the homeowners aren’t asking for similar concessions with their latest proposal.
Boespflug told The Associated Press Thursday he supports this proposal, in part because operating ski lifts will help make the resort easier to market to potential buyers and because it will help prop up flagging property values of homes whose prices collapsed when the lifts were idled more than a year ago.
Boespflug has so far been unable to find a buyer, amid a complicated tangle of demands from a syndicate of lenders – headed by Credit Suisse – who want their money back.
“There is nothing to report on this process,” Boespflug said.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers would also have to agree to the homeowners’ plan.
In April, Myers agreed to give Boespflug a chance to reorganize Tamarack’s debt and ask creditors to modify terms of loans, rather than holding a fire sale.
On Monday, Myers gave Boespflug another 90 days to resolve lease issues with Idaho over 2,124 acres of state-owned land, according to federal bankruptcy court documents.