Idaho’s Tamarack ski resort closing
BOISE, Idaho ” Tamarack Resort in northcentral Idaho, once hailed as America’s newest all-season resort but now mired in foreclosure lawsuits, plans to shut down operations by Wednesday.
“It’s disheartening,” said resort spokesman Ken Rider, who wasn’t sure how many employees will lose their jobs. “We all knew that this was a possibility.”
Tamarack is currently being run by a court-appointed receiver, San Diego, Calif.-based Douglas Wilson Co.
Rider said late Saturday that he couldn’t discuss details because Douglas Wilson had not officially released its plan. Employees on Friday were told of the resort’s impending closing. Workers answering phones at the resort on Saturday said they were not authorized to comment.
The resort 90 miles north of Boise opened in December 2004 intending to lure vacationers from across the nation for winter fun on its ski slopes. Summer visitors had an array of options, including an 18-hole golf course.
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Despite the sporting allure, the resort was being financed by real-estate sales. Development plans called for more than 2,000 lots to be sold over the next decade and a half to pay for $1.5 billion in expansion.
But those plans began to stall with the credit crisis and sputtering economy. Then last year Bank of America threatened to remove two ski lifts after Tamarack Resort fell behind on lease payments.
A $250 million loan ran out, real-estate sales slumped and construction on the resort ground to a halt.
Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf bailed out of the project and, while owners sought new money, Zurich-based Credit Suisse successfully ousted them from management. Douglas Wilson Co. stepped in to manage the project as its finances ” and multiple court cases ” get sorted out.
Ski lifts opened in December, but skier visits hit just 27,000 this year through late January as the national economy faltered and snow conditions were less than optimal, leaving the resort with an operating deficit of $304,000 as of Jan. 23 ” more than twice the $133,555 deficit anticipated two months ago by Douglas Wilson Co.
In January, Tamarack’s largest shareholder, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, said talks with potential buyers had collapsed due to credit-market turbulence, the precarious state of resort real estate, and Tamarack’s unresolved financial problems.
It’s unclear what kind of plans there are, if any, for the resort to someday resume operations following the closure.
“It’s a fantastic area,” said Rider. “It really is.”