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Schweitzer Sale Hits A Mogul Seattle Firm Still Wants Resort, But Withdraws Earnest Money

Seattle-based Harbor Properties Inc. has withdrawn the earnest money for its $18 million bid to buy Sandpoint’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

But Ron Cook, the company’s chief financial officer, said Harbor Properties still would like to acquire the family-owned business that has become mired in bankruptcy proceedings.

“It was turning into a confusing situation, and we did not want our money tied up in the case. But that shouldn’t be construed as no interest,” Cook said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Alfred Hagan heard arguments last Monday and said he would rule by Wednesday on two motions in the case. One will decide who controls the daily operation of Schweitzer Mountain. The other will determine whether the bankruptcy case will continue being heard in Hagan’s court or be sent back to U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge.

Attorneys for owners Bobbie Huguenin and her mother, Jean Brown, asked Hagan in November to let them regain control of the resort while they reorganize the business under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

But U.S. Bank - which holds a $23 million note on Schweitzer Mountain - and court-appointed receiver Ford Elsaesser want the case turned over to Lodge. Both Elsaesser and Peter Holmes, the attorney for U.S. Bank, also urged Hagan to let Elsaesser continue managing the resort no matter what else happens.

Huguenin and Brown - two of the five family owners - contend the price Harbor Properties offered failed to cover the debt.

Elsaesser’s attorney, Joseph Meier, said he believes Harbor Properties would return to the table if Hagen were to push the case back into federal court and allow the sale to proceed.



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