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Eye On Boise

Tamarack picks Eagle firm’s offer to present to bankruptcy court

Tamarack Resort owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug said today that he's selected Green Valley Holdings of Eagle to buy the Valley County ski resort, a move that could kick off additional bidding for the bankrupt golf and ski resort. That firm's Matthew Hutcheson announced earlier a $40 million cash offer for the resort; Boespflug announced today that he's selected that offer over two others, the AP reports. That means he'll submit it to a U.S. bankruptcy judge in mid-January; if the judge approves, other potential buyers could then submit additional bids to gain control of the property. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Tamarack owner selects buyer
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

EAGLE, Idaho (AP) — Tamarack Resort's owner said Wednesday he has finally chosen a buyer, a move that could kick off additional bidding for the bankrupt development whose fortunes rose and plunged with the real-estate mania of the last decade.

Jean-Pierre Boespflug said he selected Eagle, Idaho-based Green Valley Holdings, which has offered $40 million for the resort 90 miles north of Boise. Green Valley includes Larry Givens, an Idaho construction company owner, and pension fund consultant Matthew Hutcheson.

Givens and his sons, Scott and Rod Givens, who are the co-CEOs of the investor group, did not attend the news conference Wednesday. A Tamarack representative said they were traveling.

Boespflug, the French-born developer who for a decade has been the public face of Tamarack, told The Associated Press that Givens, Hutcheson and their investor group made the strongest proposal among three he's been considering. He plans to submit their bid as a so-called "stalking horse" motion to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers in mid-January.

If Myers approves, other potential buyers could then submit additional bids to gain control of the property.

"That's when we begin overbidding," Boespflug said. "Completion of the transaction will leave me with the feeling of turning the page completely."

Boespflug said he hopes to complete the transaction by April 30.

Myers must sign off on any deal, which includes a $1.6 million loan from Green Valley to help Tamarack complete the transaction.

The offer appears to have beaten out two other investment companies that have expressed interest in Tamarack: Pelorus Group, a Salt Lake City company that bought Tamarack's conference center this summer, and JMA Ventures, a San Francisco real-estate developer that already owns two ski resorts in California and one in Montana.

Neither company returned phone calls or e-mail messages from the AP seeking comment.

Still, the proposed transaction would reap just a fraction of the more than $350 million owed creditors, including lenders led by Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group, who were stiffed by Tamarack when the vacation real-estate market collapsed starting in 2007 and Boespflug couldn't muster up additional cash.

Some, including contractors who built Tamarack during its heyday, will receive only a fraction of their claims. Others will get nothing.

A Credit Suisse spokesman didn't immediately comment.

Boespflug estimates he's lost $45 million on Tamarack, while two of his minority partners, Jerry Barnett and Richard Getty, both of Gig Harbor, Wash., sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, declaring hundreds of millions in assets and liabilities, according to court records.

Green Valley's bid for Tamarack doesn't include two ski lifts owned by Bank of America Corp.'s leasing division or the Osprey Meadows golf course, all of which are subject of million-dollar litigation and would likely have to be acquired separately.

In 2004, Tamarack opened amid frenzied sales of lots, condos and chalets that would have brought in more than $500 million, had the deals been completed. President George W. Bush vacationed here in 2005 with Idaho's governor, while tennis star Andre Agassi planned to build a luxury hotel.

Then, Boespflug ran out of money and couldn't repay Credit Suisse — or finish Tamarack's Village Plaza, the resort's condo-and-commercial centerpiece that, at 60 percent complete, now stands as an insulation-wrapped monument to the ambitions of investors who briefly transformed Idaho's Valley County into a booming property speculation mecca.

The subsequent implosion has left the rural, construction-dependent region with 20 percent unemployment.

Some of those jobless residents are now back working at Tamarack, where a homeowners group has helped bankroll a ski season after persuading the bankruptcy judge to let them use lifts and other equipment that had been mothballed in March 2009 and went unused last winter.

About 900 skiers hit the slopes Monday, the season's opening day.

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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