Arctaris Impact Fund Agrees to Buy Saddleback

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Four years after being shuttered by well-intentioned but frustrated owners, Maine’s Saddleback Mountain finally has new hope.  Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund agreed this week to buy the mountain and begin preparations to reopen what was once the state’s third largest resort.  The 59 year-old mountain is one of New England’s best which has seen more than its fair share of setbacks having nothing to do with the quality of the skiing.  “This beautiful mountain has so much potential and it looks like the buyer has a strong plan moving forward,” said Dawn Klein, real estate broker for the Berry Family.  “We are excited for the acquisition to be complete for the Saddleback Resort community and the entire Rangeley area.”

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In 2008, Saddleback’s trail map showed six planned new lifts.

Bill and Irene Berry purchased Saddleback back in 2003 and spent some $40 million to build a new base lodge, South Branch lift, Kennebago quad and more.  By 2015, the family was unable to obtain financing for replacing the Rangeley double, without which the ski resort would go out of business.

The years since have been difficult for the Berrys, the Rangeley community and everyone who loves Saddleback.  In June 2017, an Australian investor named Sebastian Monsour revealed plans to purchase the mountain at a base lodge press conference.  His Majella Group intended to replace Rangeley with a fixed-grip quad and Cupsuptic with a T-Bar, both from Doppelmayr.  Majella and the Berrys never closed and no new lifts were installed.

Arctaris came on the scene after two more years of closure, signing a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the resort.  The fund specializes in providing capital to growth-oriented businesses in inner cities and under-served rural regions across the United States.  This September, both sides issued statements lamenting that negotiations had stalled.  So it’s fantastic news that the two sides have now reconciled and signed an agreement.

The calendar says November and significant work lies ahead, making a quick reopening unlikely.  While the highest and lowest elevation lifts are modern fixed-grip quads that saw some maintenance work during the closure, three lifts loading near the main base lodge average 56 years old and may need to be replaced.

Here’s to a speedy closing and lifts spinning some time in 2020.

Update 11/8: Andy Shepard, who will be the new general manager, said in an interview that two new lifts are planned to be built next summer: a high speed quad version of Rangeley and a T-Bar replacement for Cupsuptic.  Closing is scheduled for mid-December and reopening planned for between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020.

News Roundup: Answers

News Roundup: Big Picture

 

News Roundup: Italian American

    • The Edmonton Ski Club and its Mueller T-Bar will reopen this winter following a one year hiatus.
    • The developer of Big Snow America is so confident in the American Dream project that it offered the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall as collateral to secure a $2.8 billion construction loan.
    • Investors and Berkshire Bank battle over whose claim to the Hermitage six pack should take precedent.
    • The White River National Forest extends public commenting for the Breck Peak 7 Infill chairlift project to September 1st.
    • The Forest Service approved Aspen Mountain’s Pandora expansion awhile ago but the county still needs to approve necessary zoning.
    • SilverStar adds 24 hour security, surveillance cameras and enhanced line checks in the wake of the Sea to Sky Gondola downing.
    • TransLink’s CEO says the proposed Burnaby Mountain tricable gondola would be less susceptible to such an attack.
    • Grouse Mountain gives all Sea to Sky Gondola passholders free lift access through November 30th.
    • S2S cleanup will take awhile and trails remain closed for public safety.
    • Swiss manufacturer Bartholet shows it’s possible to build a new fixed quad in just three weeks.
    • Jaegerndorfer now exports Omega V cabins in miniature form to the United States.
    • Aspen Snowmass will add chairs to lifts at Highlands and Snowmass to address Ikon Pass crowding concerns.
    • Skytrac will manufacture towers for and install the new Leitner T-Bar at Ski Cooper.
    • This profile demonstrates why the Kaiser S2 excavator is so popular for ski lift construction.
    • MND Group, owner of LST Ropeways, says it has resolved “financial difficulties” by reorganizing its debt.
    • Doppelmayr names Jürgen Pichler its new global marketing chief.
    • It looks like Sunday River’s Locke Mountain triple will gain a tower or two thanks to the new T-Bar that crosses under it.
    • Arctaris Impact Fund hosts a community meeting and announces its intention to close on the purchase of Saddleback come early November.
    • Big Sky and Loon Mountain will launch the world’s first dual frequency RFID lift access system in partnership with Axess.
    • With a new detachable quad under construction, Bogus Basin caps a five year turnaround.
    • Alpine Media display screens will go live on more chairs this winter.
    • Big Burn at Snowmass may be replaced with a bubble lift.

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News Roundup: Norway

  • Arctaris Impact Fund still wants to buy Saddleback but no deal has been reached after more than a year.
  • The Banff-Norquay gondola project faces stiff headwinds from Parks Canada.
  • The latest podcast from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz highlights how the company takes over operations at newly-acquired resorts.
  • A judge rejects the Hermitage Club’s proposed restructuring plan as members look to reopen under new management.
  • In other Hermitage news, a New Jersey bank seeks to repossess 46 snow guns.
  • Here is the complete incident narrative from the February SeaWorld gondola deropement.
  • Lift construction gets underway at Skeetawk, America’s first all-new ski area since Cherry Peak in 2015.
  • Village construction resumes at Tamarack with Wildwood Express installation to follow this fall.
  • A helicopter delivers most of the new Steamboat gondola towers.
  • Last week’s gondola incident at Vail was not a result of tampering or sabotage.
  • Medellín’s sixth urban gondola, Line P, is on track to open in December.
  • After 1,231 days as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, the Badger Pass name returns thanks to a $12 million settlement between the National Park Service and two competing concession companies.
  • I spoke too soon on Eaglecrest possibly building Alaska’s first gondola.  Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island is planning a gondola project to open as soon as next summer.
  • The haul rope is spliced for a rare fixed grip chondola in Illinois.
  • Mi Teleférico in La Paz broke its own daily record again on Monday with 583,841 riders, more than average weekday ridership for Boston’s three subway lines combined.

  • Municipally-owned Great Bear resorts to private fundraising in hopes of replacing its Borvig chairlift.
  • Placer County leaders will vote Tuesday on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
  • Simon Fraser University steps up its Burnaby Mountain gondola marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Griffith Park gondola study is underway.
  • Eagle’s Rest 2.0 nears completion at Jackson Hole.

News Roundup: A Long Time Coming

News Roundup: Not Cool

News Roundup: Public vs. Private

  • After a tower shifted downhill this spring, the City of Steamboat will again fix Howelsen Hill’s chairlift rather than replacing it.
  • In the Jay Peak fraud case, former resort owner Ariel Quiros and executive Bill Stenger settle with the State of Vermont for $2.1 million without admitting wrongdoing.
  • In a separate class action lawsuit, a group of Jay Peak investors allege more than 100 immigration lawyers received $5 million in kickbacks from the resort, creating undisclosed conflicts of interest.
  • The federal government orders an immediate shutdown of the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, which allowed foreigners to invest in ski resorts such as Jay Peak and other businesses in exchange for green cards.
  • No big deal: a Chinese theme park might build three 3S gondolas.
  • A lawsuit by the State of Maine seeks to finally right the tragedy that followed the sale of a public ski resort to a private company which ran it into the ground.
  • Mt. Snow confirms its next logical lift upgrades will be in Sunbrook and Carinthia.
  • Hermitage Club members could lease Haystack Mountain to reopen next season but Berkshire Bank will not.  Homeowners may have a senior lien on the Barnstormer six-pack but would need to pay for $300,000 of lift maintenance to reopen.
  • Even though his purchase of Saddleback never closed, Australian businessman Sebastian Monsour did spend $400,000 on the closed Maine ski resort last year.  Hopefully some went to lift maintenance!
  • Peak Resorts reports record fourth quarter revenue, up 9.3 percent over last year to $56 million with EBITDA up 3.9 percent to $21.5 million.
  • Arizona Snowbowl reopens tomorrow after a month-and-a-half fire danger closure.
  • Parks Canada seeks public comments on possible Sunshine Village lift and terrain expansions into Goat’s Eye II, Lower Meadow Park and Hayes Hill. Another new lift could eventually parallel the gondola.
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Overview of proposed Sunshine Village expansion areas.  Other acreage would be removed from Sunshine’s area of occupation to compensate for environmental impacts of expansion.

News Roundup: Fighting

  • The first of many Omega 10 passenger gondola cabins is spotted at Walt Disney World.
  • Saddleback Mountain Foundation plans to make a second offer for Maine’s third largest ski area, which has been closed for nearly three years.
  • Santiago, Chile awards the contract for an $80 million, four station urban gondola to Doppelmayr.
  • The first indoor ski area in the Western Hemisphere plans to open March 1, 2019 with a Doppelmayr CTEC quad chair and platter that were installed back in 2008.
  • A gondola is one option being considered to improve mobility in Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Alta, Snowbird and lots of traffic.
  • A Basin’s Al Henceroth updates us on Norway’s removal and hints more lift changes may be in store for Lenawee Mountain.
  • Members of Congress from four states pen a letter to the Forest Service asking for Arizona Snowbowl to be reopened or further explanation given as to why its extended closure is necessary.
  • Doppelmayr scores another project in Canada – a $1.8 million fixed-grip quad with loading carpet at Sugarloaf, New Brunswick.
  • Rope evacuating 20-25 mountain bikers turns into a four hour affair at Marquette Mountain.
  • Ikon Pass destination number 27 is Thredbo, Australia.
  • Jumbo Glacier Resort is fighting to reinstate its construction permit.
  • A spokesman for the new owners of Maple Valley, Vermont says reopening for skiing is a long term goal that could take many years to accomplish.
  • Loveland seeks a good name for the new Lift 1.
  • Loon Mountain is buying brand new CWA Omega cabins for its gondola this fall.
  • Tremblant says goodbye to the Lowell Thomas triple, making way for a detachable quad.
  • The first Hermitage Club property auction yields a $1.2 million winning bid. “There will be more of these coming up,” says the Windham County Sheriff.
  • A breakdown at the Jasper SkyTram leads to an 18 hour helicopter evacuation of 160 guests.

News Roundup: States

  • Keep an eye out for a brand new urban gondola adjacent to the stadium during coverage of the final World Cup soccer match in Moscow.
  • The Jay Peak receiver goes after the owner of six Quebec ski resorts for allegedly aiding and abetting fraud that followed the sale of its Vermont ski resort to a Florida businessman.
  • Boston will spend $400,000 to study a gondola and other possible transportation options for the city’s Seaport district.
  • Utah skier visits fell 9.6 percent compared with last year but were even with the state’s ten year average.
  • Vermont visits rose 1.2 percent year over year to 3.97 million.
  • New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald says the state will have the final say in Vail Resorts’ announced takeover of Mt. Sunapee’s lease from Triple Peaks.
  • The Oakland Zoo will more than double in size on July 12th thanks to an innovative gondola.
  • SilverStar’s new gondola, recently dubbed the Schumann Summit Express, launches July 14th.
  • The White River National Forest approves Vail’s Game Creek six place project. I’m still waiting to hear back from Vail Resorts about a construction timeline and manufacturer.
  • A Branson, MO company is still talking about building a $260 million gondola system there.
  • The second Doppelmayr Wir magazine of 2018 highlights the company’s quickest ever gondola construction project in the United States, Big Sky’s upcoming D-Line eight seater and a 2,800 pph gondola that requires no operators at all.
  • Purgatory furloughs employees, reduces hours and eliminates some positions entirely as it remains closed due to the 416 Fire.
  • Sebastian Monsour, the Australian developer who flew to Maine to announce his purchase of Saddleback, is arrested in Brisbane, accused of misusing $3.4 million in investor funds.
  • Parts are everywhere at Wolf Creek for the upcoming Meadow detachable quad.