October 26, 2008 in City

Ailing Tamarack Resort set to open by Dec. 12

By JOHN MILLER Associated Press
 

BOISE – The head of the company that’s stepped in to manage financially crippled Tamarack Resort as the central Idaho vacation destination’s bankers and owners fight over its future says his goal is clear: preserve the physical assets and make sure ski lifts are operating by Dec. 12.

“We come in as crisis managers, in a very user-friendly way, to take over control of the operations until there is a resolution of the underlying litigation,” Douglas Wilson, of San Diego-based receiver Douglas Wilson Cos., said Friday.

As part of its foreclosure lawsuit, Zurich-based Credit Suisse had demanded that Wilson step in to run Tamarack after the resort, located 90 miles north of Boise, defaulted on a syndicated loan on which it now owes more than $273 million.

Wilson arrived Monday with four others from his company and is now awaiting a $10 million loan pledged by the Swiss bank to prepare the ski hill and to winterize Tamarack’s centerpiece Village Plaza, whose Tyvek-wrapped hulk is still more than $70 million from completion and could be damaged by approaching wintry weather if adequate measures aren’t taken.

Credit Suisse officials didn’t immediately return an e-mail late Friday seeking comment on when the loan would be extended.

Wilson, who has retained key employees including Jim Spenst, Tamarack’s head of operations, said he’s hopeful the loan transaction will be resolved in the coming week.

“Everyone has an alignment of interests, and that is to preserve value,” Wilson said. “I’m not just a consultant, I understand complex operations. We don’t have all the solutions immediately, but we certainly are willing to roll up our sleeves and push this process along.”

In all, about 30 employees are now on the job at Tamarack and Wilson said he expects to rehire about 100 more who were laid off a week ago. Still, construction companies and others who have filed more than $40 million in liens will have to wait for resolution. Wilson is responsible for operations moving forward but will leave previous conflicts over debts to be sorted out in the courts.

Jean-Pierre Boespflug and Alfredo Miguel, who control nearly 80 percent of the resort’s equity personally or through their real-estate holding companies, ran out of money from the Credit Suisse loan last year and have so far failed to find new investors.

Since then, the real estate market has soured further, construction on the Village Plaza centerpiece collapsed, tennis stars Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi bolted from a luxury hotel project, and two banks foreclosed on a conference center and employee housing.

As receiver, Wilson answers to Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen, who last week issued a 12-page order outlining his role. Among other things, Wilson must in 45 days file an inventory of all fixtures, equipment, machinery, personal property and all other loan collateral he’s now overseeing.

In addition to Credit Suisse’s foreclosure action, a federal judge in a separate action earlier this month dismissed bankruptcy cases that had been protecting Tamarack assets owned by Boespflug and Miguel.

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