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Homeowners avert Tamarack ski-lift auction, will operate resort

zkyle@idahostatesman.com

Tamarack homeowners buy ski resort

Tamarack Municipal Association purchased the financially troubled Tamarack Resort, ensuring the resort will be open to skiers this winter. Valley County, which was owed back taxes for ski lifts, the unfinished lodge and other pieces of the resort,
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Tamarack Municipal Association purchased the financially troubled Tamarack Resort, ensuring the resort will be open to skiers this winter. Valley County, which was owed back taxes for ski lifts, the unfinished lodge and other pieces of the resort,

A group of homeowners at Tamarack Resort has bought part of the financially troubled resort, ensuring it will be open to skiers this winter.

The Tamarack Municipal Association also will control all skiing and summer and operations, including all six chairlifts and lodging, said the resort’s general manager, Brad Larsen.

Valley County, which was owed back taxes for ski lifts, an unfinished lodge and other pieces of the resort, had scheduled an auction to sell those pieces next week. But the homeowners paid back taxes and an undisclosed amount to NewTrac, the name of an ownership group that included Credit Suisse, banks and other creditors.

Several properties the homeowners did not buy will still be auctioned Monday, but not the lifts, the unfinished Mid-Mountain Lodge or any other operations critical to the ski resort, Larsen told the Idaho Statesman.

The resort is located near Lake Cascade, 100 miles north of Boise.

In a video announcing the purchase, Larsen said Tamarack plans to open to skiers Dec. 9.

“We have all the assets we need for successful operations,” Larsen said. “Tamarack will be open this winter and long into the future.”

Other entities own the golf course and unfinished Village Plaza, which, like many commercial and residential properties at Tamarack, were abandoned during the recession when the original owner, Tamarack LLC, went bankrupt.

Will old plans be completed?

Larsen said the homeowners association hopes to steer the commercial properties around the resort toward completion.

“The long-term outlook is very positive, because the owners can be very proactive towards finding developers and investors to help finish our unfinished real estate projects,” he said.

The homeowners paid $269,075 in back taxes for two ski lifts, the Mid-Mountain Lodge and a zip line course, as well as $18,517 on improvements to three golf holes of the golf course, Valley County Treasurer Glenna Young told the Statesman. That allowed NewTrac to retake ownership of those properties in order to sell them, avoiding a tax auction.

Tamarack’s original developer envisioned the resort becoming Idaho’s version of Aspen, catering to the rich and famous. The $1.5 billion resort opened in 2004 and went bankrupt in 2008. Its primary investor, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, disappeared in 2011.

In 2005, Tamarack installed the Tamarack Express and Summit detachable lifts to speed skiers and snowboarders to the top of West Mountain.

The 13,620-square-foot Mid-Mountain Lodge was built at the top of the Tamarack Express, but the interior of the wood-sided building was never finished.

Another chairlift, the Wildwood Express, was removed in June 2012 for money Tamarack owed to Bank of America.

Homeowners in the resort bought the small Buttercup lift from Bank of America, preserving ski-in, ski-out access to their slope-side homes.

Homeowners to pick, choose among other properties

The ski lifts and Mid-Mountain Lodge were just the latest properties to be seized. The county took ownership in July of 10 properties from West Mountain Golf, which owns the land on which a closed golf course is located.

Those properties are clustered around the Lodge at Osprey Meadows and include space for a spa, pool equipment storage, golf cart storage, dining and employee services, the course’s pro shop, and the pool and terrace at the lodge, the treasurer’s office said.

On Dec. 5, the county will hold a public hearing to start the process to seize 39 additional NewTrac properties owing a total of $780,000 in back taxes, Young said. The homeowners bought all of those properties and will decide which they will pay off the back taxes for and which they will let go to auction, Larsen said.

NewTrac had objected to the county seizing those properties. They include 14 condos that also serve as rental rooms in the Lodge at Osprey Meadows and buildings for Tamarack operations such as the ski maintenance shop, a former market and medical center, the Canoe Grill and Seven Devils Pub, Sports Dome and Wildhorse day-care center.

NewTrac successfully delayed the seizures twice because of typographical errors in the past-due notices.

Watch Tamarack Resort test its snowmaking equipment.

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