After months of rumors and wrangling, a Seattle company finally has signed a deal to buy Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
Harbor Properties Inc., which operates the Stevens Pass ski area, signed a nearly $18 million deal with Schweitzer this weekend.
The company expects to take over next month, according to a source familiar with the agreement. The sale will have to be approved by a federal judge before it’s final.
Sandpoint’s Jim Brown family has owned and operated the resort since it opened in 1963. This will mark the first time the hill has left the family’s hands.
Details of the sale were not available Monday. Harbor Properties is expected to make a formal announcement later this week and outline its plans for the popular ski hill.
Schweitzer officials declined to comment on the purchase.
Schweitzer has been courting buyers since last November when its $27 million debt forced the resort into receivership.
Sandpoint attorney Ford Elsaesser was appointed by a federal judge to help Schweitzer pay creditors.
Most of the money the resort owes is to U.S. Bank of Washington for an expansion project at the ski hill that never paid off. The resort built a new day lodge, an 80-room hotel that has been plagued with roof problems and added a high-speed quad chairlift.
Instead of declaring bankruptcy or having the bank take over the ski hill, the Brown family agreed to try to find a buyer for the resort.
Problems with the hotel and resort sewage system, along with some disagreements among the Brown family slowed the sale. It wasn’t until the bank pushed for a deal to get some of its money back that the sale finally moved ahead, according to a source who wanted to remain anonymous.
Harbor Properties is headed by real estate magnate Stimson Bullitt, who has major property holdings in downtown Seattle. The company was one of about four vying for Schweitzer.
Spokane’s Goodale & Barbieri Cos., had made a written offer for the resort earlier but the deal never materialized.
Harbor Properties likely will hire a new mountain manager from outside Schweitzer, the source said. Some key staff members are expected to stay.
Schweitzer Marketing Director Bob Hamilton, however, already has announced his departure. Before the sale was finalized, Hamilton accepted a job near Lake Tahoe at another ski resort.
Ideally, the Brown family hoped to stay partners in the resort so their 33-year family tradition wasn’t lost. The family and Pack River Management Co. still own some land surrounding the resort and are said to have retained a small interest in the ski hill.