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Tamarack Resort closing

Sun., March 1, 2009

Real estate sales were to underpin financing

BOISE – Tamarack Resort, once hailed as America’s newest all-season resort but now mired in foreclosure lawsuits, plans to shut down operations by Wednesday.

“It’s disheartening,” said spokesman Ken Rider. “We all knew that this was a possibility.”

Tamarack is being run by a court-appointed receiver, San Diego-based Douglas Wilson Co.

Rider said late Saturday that he couldn’t discuss details because Douglas Wilson had not officially released its plan. Employees on Friday were told of the resort’s impending closure.

The resort, 90 miles north of Boise, opened in December 2004 intending to lure vacationers from across the nation for winter fun on its ski slopes. Summer visitors had an array of options, including an 18-hole golf course.

Despite the sporting allure, the resort was being financed by real-estate sales. Development plans called for more than 2,000 lots to be sold over the next decade and a half to pay for $1.5 billion in expansion.

But those plans began to stall with the credit crisis and sputtering economy. Then last year Bank of America threatened to remove two ski lifts after Tamarack fell behind on payments.

A $250 million loan ran out, real-estate sales slumped and construction on the resort ground to a halt.

Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf bailed out of the project and, while owners sought new money, Zurich-based Credit Suisse successfully ousted them from management.

Ski lifts opened in December, but the resort had an operating deficit of $304,000 as of Jan. 23 – more than twice the $133,555 deficit Douglas Wilson had predicted.

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