Company formed to buy Tamarack ski area offers $40 million
BOISE – A group founded by an Eagle investment consultant and the leaders of a Treasure Valley home construction company are making a $40 million offer to buy Tamarack Resort and bring new life to the troubled central Idaho getaway.
Founders of Green Valley Holdings announced their bid to buy the failed resort’s assets Monday from Jean-Pierre Boespflug, the French-born co-founder of the ski and golf resort in the mountains 90 miles north of Boise.
Green Valley co-founder Matthew Hutcheson said the company was formed specifically to buy Tamarack and finish construction projects that have been mothballed since March 2009, when bankers pulled the plug.
The formal bid was sent Monday to Boespflug, who is locked in a battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court with a group of lenders led by Credit Suisse over Tamarack’s 2008 default on a $300 million construction loan.
Hutcheson, who oversees pensions and other retirement investment plans, formed Green Valley Holdings in August with Larry Givens, owner of Givens Construction, a Boise-based homebuilding and remodeling company, according to records filed with the secretary of state.
Hutcheson, 40, said he and his partners have no experience in the ski and resort business but intend to hire enough people who do to help turn around the resort and boost the local economy in towns like Donnelly and Cascade that have struggled since the shutdown.
“This is a special property to us and for the state of Idaho,” said Hutcheson, who did not take questions from the media during a news conference in Boise. “We intend to be stewards of Tamarack, prudently safeguarding its resources. Greater work and investment lies ahead if our bid is accepted.”
Neither Hutcheson nor Givens immediately returned telephone messages Monday.
Professionally, Hutcheson describes himself on websites and in articles as an independent fiduciary, or a consultant hired to provide advice on pension plans, endowments and other institutional investments. In July, he testified before Congress on ways to protect retirement investments and pension funds.
Green Valley Holdings made the latest offer to buy Tamarack and most of its assets, including ski lifts, buildings and the name.
Boespflug said he was considering a total of five offers. The only other proposal made public by possible buyers was a $42 million offer submitted in August by Salt Lake City-based Pelorus Group.
Boespflug said he intends to pick the best offer soon and make a motion early next month for consideration by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers and a court-appointed receiver. Boespflug declined to share details of the other three bids but called the Green Valley Holdings offer credible.
“Obviously we’re happy that they’re interested,” Boespflug said.
The bid is the latest piece of positive news for the resort and property owners who have been fighting in court to save the resort, or at the very least a ski season this winter.
Last week, Credit Suisse and a homeowners association paid $415,000 to the Idaho Department of Lands to cover the resort’s lease on 2,100 acres of land through next June.
But major work and construction bills await any new owner. Tamarack’s centerpiece, a village with space for retail shops, restaurants and condominiums, is unfinished and is boarded or covered in tarps to protect against the elements.
John Norton, a ski industry consultant who helped rescue Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain Resort from bankruptcy eight years ago, said Tamarack has all the necessary ingredients to thrive if entrusted to buyers who make smart choices and can raise capital.
Norton, who toured Tamarack in February, estimated it would take at least $20 million to finish construction on the ski village and other key components.
“It seems like a very solid offer, a very solid price,” said Norton, who served as CEO of Crested Butte from 2002-’04 and as a senior vice president at Aspen Skiing Co. from 1991-2002. “I don’t think there is any question that this resort can be turned around.”
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