Tamarack Proposes Vast 3,300 Acre Expansion

Idaho’s Tamarack Resort today announced the submission of a special use permit application for thousands of acres of new ski terrain and six new lifts in the Boise National Forest. A flagship 10 passenger gondola would rise from Tamarack’s existing base village to Lone Tree Summit with a mid-mountain unloading station. Three new detachable quads and two triple chairlifts are also envisioned for the Overlook, South Bowl and Poison Creek areas. Another new lift would occupy private land at a new South Base Area and yet another on state land between the existing Tamarack Express and Wildwood Express lifts.

Tamarack Resort Holdings purchased a distressed Tamarack in November 2018 and immediately got to work restoring the Wildwood terrain pod and resuming construction of the Tamarack Village. Now the investor group is ready to look beyond the current ski terrain, which occupies state and private land rather than National Forest. “This application represents another step in the process of completing the grand vision of Tamarack Resort,” said Tamarack Resort President Scott Turlington. “We’ve all worked hard to get to this point, and we know a lot of work remains to be done. We look forward to continuing to work with the professionals at the U.S. Forest Service, and we are eager to begin engaging the public and other stakeholders in the public process that will soon follow the submission of this application.”

News Roundup: Olympics

News Roundup: Unboxing

  • Lizards prevent construction of an announced chairlift project in New Zealand.
  • Berkshire East and Catamount owner Jon Schaefer finds success staying away from detachable lifts and acquiring used lifts from across the country.
  • Ikon Pass sales rose 60 percent over last year.
  • Cockaigne, NY will reopen in January after many seasons closed.
  • Frost Fire, ND reopens after a missed season.
  • A 3S gondola to Snowbird and Alta would cost more than $300 million to build and $12 million a year to operate.
  • Vail Resorts looks to build it first D-Line chairlift, not in Colorado or California but at Perisher.
  • The Forest Service green lights construction of a new Big Burn lift at Snowmass.
  • A new version of Eagle’s Rest comes Jackson Hole.
  • A downed tree causes extended stops at Silver Mountain.
  • The one year old Blackcomb Gondola went down Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
  • Disney Skyliner guests can now call a dedicated phone line for information when gondolas stop for longer than usual.
  • Lift service returns to Tamarack’s Wildwood zone tomorrow.
  • Copper’s Tucker Mountain becomes lift served for the first time today.
  • Regardless of whether Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows build an interconnect gondola, a private ski area may open nearby.

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  • 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.

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News Roundup: Worth the Wait

New Owner Set to Resume Building Tamarack, Idaho

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When a group of homeowners banded together to spin lifts at a bankrupt Tamarack Resort in 2010, it was a temporarily measure.  Eight years later, a consortium of investors has finally agreed to take over operations of the 2,100 acre resort and resume development that abruptly ceased in March 2009.  The group, made up of Imperium Companies, MMG Equity Partners and Blue River Family Office Partners, is the same one behind much of the commercial real estate at Blue Mountain, Copper, Mammoth, Snowshoe and Stratton.  It expects to close on the mountain November 30th.

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Only foundations and operator houses remain on the Wildwood site at the north end of Tamarack.

Current Tamarack staff including General Manager Brad Larsen will remain with the resort upon closing.  Industry veteran Jon Reveal will come on board as President of Tamarack Resort Holdings.  “We have been evaluating and working on this agreement for nearly two years to truly understand the history and complexities of the resort,” Reveal said in a news release.  “The partnership strongly believes Tamarack has a tremendous opportunity to thrive as a four-season destination of choice for Idahoans and visitors from across North America.  Our team looks forward to proving our commitment to Tamarack, Valley County residents, Idahoans and all our guests through investment, completion of unfinished projects and improved resort amenities and offerings.”

Jean-Pierre Boespflug led the investment group that opened Tamarack in 2003, building six lifts over two years along with significant real estate offerings.  Mr. Boespflug’s timing was unfortunate and the resort fell behind on payments for a $250 million loan by early 2008.  The lifts closed on March 4th, 2009 and Tamarack did not open again for a year and a half.  The Tamarack Municipal Association reached an agreement to operate four of six lifts in 2010 and bought assets from lenders for pennies on the dollar in 2016.  Amid the mess, Bank of America repossessed the Wildwood Express lift, which ended up at Brian Head, Utah.  Homeowners were able to purchase and retain the Buttercup lift, which was also underwater but of significantly less value than Wildwood.  At one point four other lifts came close to being sold in a sheriff sale.

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Tamarack has two Leitner-Poma high speed quads, two Doppelmayr CTEC fixed grip quads and a Poma platter surface lift today.

Under a lease agreement reached today with the State of Idaho, the new owners commit to either rebuilding or removing the remaining foundations from Wildwood by December 31, 2024 (The Idaho Department of Lands is the landlord in this case rather than the United States Forest Service.)   Imperium Co-Founder Kyle Mowitz says the focus this time will be on the mountain rather than real estate a new Wildwood could come as soon as summer 2019.  Work should also resume next spring on the incomplete Village Plaza and mid-mountain restaurant.  The Osprey Meadows golf course, which was abandoned in 2016 and is partially owned by another party, will take longer to reclaim.

I followed Tamarack’s grand opening with excitement and then watched its downfall with disappointment.  What happened was never about the mountain, which is perfect for a ski resort.  There’s gorgeous Lake Cascade at the base and boundless recreational opportunities in every season.  As a decade went by, I remained hopeful a second chance would come for this remarkable place.  Congratulations to Tamarack employees and homeowners for staying the course through some dark times to get to this new day.

As The Hermitage Faces Foreclosure, What About the Lifts?

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The Barnstormer lift lies at the center of a ski area and real estate development facing an uncertain future in Vermont.

Berkshire Bank of Massachusetts initiated foreclosure proceedings on the Hermitage Club and related properties last Friday, claiming three loans worth $17 million are in default with $16.3 million in principal still outstanding.  The private club, located next to and once part of Mt. Snow, is open and spinning lifts this weekend but it’s not clear how long that will continue.  While the marketing department feverishly posts pictures of fresh snow and smiling children on social media, what happens next will probably be decided in a court room.  No one knows the eventual outcome but recent ski resort foreclosures and bankruptcies offer some insights.

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