Two large unfinished chunks of Tamarack Resort are scheduled to be offered to the highest bidder Tuesday, July 16, on the steps of the Valley County Courthouse in Cascade.
The public auction would be the first significant action at the $1.5 billion four-season resort southwest of Donnelly since the owners stopped construction and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008. The properties to be auctioned are the massive Village Plaza condo and commercial complex and the partially completed wing of the Lodge at Osprey Meadows.
One of the creditors, Teufel Nursery of Portland, filed an appeal to stop the auction.
"It's forcing everybody's hand," says Chris Kirk, former Tamarack vice president of planning and current vice president of the resort's homeowners' group, the Tamarack Municipal Association. "It's forcing others to make decisions."
After the bankruptcy, creditors quickly filed a stack of lawsuits seeking unpaid debts, most notably Credit Suisse bank, which says it is owed $343 million on an unpaid loan. Majority investor Jean-Pierre Boespflug disappeared in 2011. The resort is now in a lengthy foreclosure proceeding in state court.
The unfinished village is "not in bad shape," Kirk says. "It isn't deteriorated as much as one might think."
The resort in late 2005 reported a sellout release of 129 plaza condominiums valued at $120 million. They ranged from studios to three-room penthouses, from $350,000 to $2.78 million.
A 2007 report said the six-building, multitiered plaza would include hotel condominiums, a movie theater, 23 boutiques, shops and restaurants. The total price tag was set at $91 million.
By April of that year, the developers had already signed seven commercial leases for the pedestrian village, while the opening of the village was scheduled for 15 months later. That included a floral shop, pastry and ice cream vendor, a health drink shop including smoothies and wheatgrass shots, an "Asian fusion" restaurant, a sports apparel store and photography studio.
"You drive in there, it doesn't look like a ghost town," Kirk says. "It's well maintained, the paint isn't peeling, the siding is in good shape, the drip irrigation is running."
After the bankruptcy filing, earnest money put down on the condos was refunded and the commercial leases were voided. Some of the condominiums were protected from the elements. A court-ordered receiver used millions more from Credit Suisse bank to protect them all.
The Osprey Meadows lodge wing, known as Lake Wing, is not much more than a foundation.
WHAT A BUYER COULD DO
One option would entail finishing the three most-developed buildings to open the storefronts and complete the condominiums, Kirk says. The residences could be rented out, the condos sold.
Three unfinished buildings could be finished, or their exteriors could still be completed like a movie set so they would not distract visitors.
"It's an interesting challenge for somebody," Kirk says. "The opportunity is certainly there."
WHO MIGHT BID
Washington-based general contractor Banner/Sabey II can bid by credit for the $13 million it is owed on the buildings. A credit bid is a bid on behalf of the lender for up to the balance of the loan in default. It requires no additional cash. A successful credit bidder could sell the property or develop it.
"Anybody can bid, but it is likely going to be credit bids that succeed," says Stephen Lord, attorney for the Tamarack homeowners.
Lead creditor MHTN Architects Inc. of Salt Lake City can bid for the lodge wing by using credits from the $654,000 the company is still owed.
3 OTHER PROPERTIES
The fate of three other pieces is not yet known. They are:
Undeveloped land and the area's ski lifts.
Parcels on which tennis stars Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf had proposed building a Fairmont Hotel.
15 unfinished Trillium Townhomes. Some Trillium residences are finished.
GOLF COURSE, SKI AREA
The homeowners group stepped in to run the ski area after the bankruptcy and later took over Osprey Meadows Golf Course. No matter what happens in the sheriff's sale, the Tamarack Municipal Association will continue to operate Osprey Meadows Golf Course this summer and reopen the resort's ski area next winter, Lord says.