Tamarack faces looming state lease deadline

AP News
Posted: Oct 20, 2010 6:43 PM
Tamarack faces looming state lease deadline

As Tamarack Resort scrambles to find a buyer, the clock is ticking on the failed Idaho vacation getaway's lease of 1,200 acres of state land where most of its ski lifts are located.

Tamarack has until Nov. 5 to pay Idaho $250,000 for the lease, which was due last January. If the November deadline passes, creditors led by Credit Suisse Group would get another 15 days to pay Idaho.

If nobody covers the lease, it would expire.

On Tuesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers rejected a proposed $2 million loan to prop up Tamarack and help it find a buyer, ruling the Credit Suisse-led proposal was likely to default and had the potential to further hurt those already owed millions after the resort's 2008 collapsed.

A portion of the $2 million had been earmarked to pay the lease with Idaho.

Homeowners said Wednesday they are still counting on the lease being brought current to bolster their separate plan to operate skiing starting Dec. 20.

"Judge Myers' ruling certainly doesn't mean skiing is off this winter at Tamarack Resort," said Tim Flaherty, director of the Tamarack Municipal Association homeowners group. "We're confident that the wisdom of protecting the economic development skiing will bring will provide us a pathway to achieving that."

Tamarack's owner, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, told The Associated Press he'll submit a new loan proposal by next week for Myers' approval.

George Bacon, director of the Idaho Department of Lands, the state agency that manages Tamarack's lease of the ski runs, said his agency is watching the bankruptcy court closely to see who will eventually control the lease.

Bacon said Flaherty and the homeowners have contacted his office over their plan to operate the ski lifts starting in December, but it's not up to them _ it's up to Tamarack or Credit Suisse to make sure the state gets paid.

"We did have some chats with them, and indicated we can only do business with the lessee," Bacon said, adding it's unlikely that the state would allow skiing to proceed if it doesn't get money it's due.

Credit Suisse representatives in New York didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment late Wednesday on whether the bank would make good on the lease, should a renewed loan offer collapse and Tamarack miss the deadline.

A real-estate agent who has been marketing Tamarack for $68 million, Russ Johnson of CB Richard Ellis, told Myers last week in court that its assets, including the unfinished Village Plaza centerpiece and other development property, could fetch only "salvage" prices if they aren't sold along with a viable lease to the ski runs.

Under original loan terms demanded by Credit Suisse and New York City-based Candlewood Investment Group, another investor offering the $2 million, a new restructuring officer would step in to replace Boespflug to oversee the sale of the resort over the next six months.