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Eye On Boise

Utah firm wants to buy Tamarack Resort

A Salt Lake City real estate investment company that's had issues of its own over an eastern Idaho real estate development says it's put in an offer to buy the bankrupt Tamarack Resort, the AP reports. Pelorus Group owner JT Bramlette told the AP he hopes to buy Tamarack "at a discount." Click below to read the full story from AP reporter John Miller.

Utah company says it's offered to buy Idaho resort
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Salt Lake City real estate investment company says it has offered an undisclosed sum for Tamarack Resort, the central Idaho ski-and-golf getaway that collapsed in 2008 under hundreds of millions in unpaid debt.

Pelorus Group owner JT Bramlette told The Associated Press his company aims to buy the resort, which is in bankruptcy court.

Bramlette and others at Pelorus are named in a lawsuit in federal court over a separate real estate development near the Idaho-Wyoming border.

The owners of Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, about 90 miles north of Boise, owe $300 million to a syndicate of lenders led by Credit Suisse Group, as well as millions more to builders, contractors and suppliers who worked on buildings at the site before construction ground to a halt in 2008.

Bramlette didn't disclose the amount of his offer. The resort has been priced at $68 million. CB Richard Ellis, a Los Angeles-based real-estate company, has been marketing Tamarack to potential buyers.

"We plan on buying Tamarack at a discount, based on the current status of economy and the project," Bramlette told the AP Tuesday evening.

Last month, Bramlette's company agreed to buy Tamarack's conference center for about $1 million. The Arling Center will eventually open for weddings and other gatherings, he said.

"We've spent the last six months doing our due diligence on Tamarack and surrounding area, talking with current residents and homeowners," Bramlette said. "We'd like to be the ones to get in there and get it straightened out."

Bramlette said his offer was submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers last week.

Phone calls to Jean-Pierre Boespflug, Tamarack's majority owner, and CB Richard Ellis, weren't immediately returned.

Doug Dvorak, a Tamarack Municipal Association board member who was among homeowners who last week presented a plan to operate the ski area this coming winter, said Pelorus hadn't contacted the board over its plans.

"This is nothing but positive news, but for the last 18 to 24 months, there's been a slew of rumors, things like Donald Trump is coming, this and that," Dvorak said. "Until a deal has been inked, the keys have been handed over, and there's physically a new buyer, I'm trying to manage my own expectations and the expectations of the constituents I represent."

It's unclear whether the loan syndicate, comprised of dozens of investors led by Zurich-based Credit Suisse, will agree to the sale under terms offered by Pelorus.

Credit Suisse spokesman Duncan King declined to comment.

Aaron Wernli, another Pelorus owner, said the syndicate could accept his company's offer, take another one, or choose to hold Tamarack assets in hopes the vacation real-estate market rebounds.

"We think we've made a strong bid, we have strong partners," Wernli said. "It's not just about acquiring the asset, it's about developing a successful project for the state of Idaho."

Bramlette and Wernli aren't new to real estate in Idaho.

They're named in a federal lawsuit filed in 2008 over the Teton Springs Golf & Casting Club, a development in Victor in eastern Idaho. Twenty-seven plaintiffs who had hoped to benefit from lucrative real-estate investments contend Bramlette, Wernli and others conspired to misrepresent the value of property west of the tony resort region of Jackson, Wyo.

"JT Bramlette told them the appraisals were for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what they cost to purchase," said Jeff Meyerson, an Austin, Texas, lawyer who represents the plaintiffs. "It's very surprising to my clients that he's still in business."

A trial in that case in U.S. District Court is scheduled for Oct. 13.

Bramlette counters Teton Springs investors who lost money amid the vacation real estate market's swift collapse in 2007 and 2008 are unhappy and trying to recoup their money any way they can. After the crash, he said, such lawsuits "are just the nature of the business."

"The market was yanked out from beneath everybody," Bramlette said. "When you are dealing with investors who lost money, they're looking to point the finger at somebody."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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