Saturday, July 2, 2011

Powderhorn Ski Resort Goes Up For Auction

Powderhorn Ski Resort may have a new owner, or owners, in fewer than five weeks.

The rumor mill is churning out speculation about who may show up to bid at the 1 p.m. auction Aug. 4 at the resort, which hasn’t shown positive net income since 2007.

Home Loan Chief Executive Officer and President Jamie Hamilton said he has been contacted about going in on a bid, but he’s not interested. Dave Kearsley, a local financial adviser who lives near Powderhorn, said he heard Crested Butte Mountain Resort or Steamboat Ski & Resort may be interested in bidding.

“At the moment, I don’t think that’s true,” Crested Butte Communications Manager Erica Reiter said, a sentiment echoed by Steamboat Public Relations Manager Loryn Kasten.

A local ski instructor who works at the mountain but did not want to go on the record said he’s been trying to drum up interest among local investors, but he has had little luck. He said another instructor tried to pass the hat for a group bid, but the effort fell through.

Still, it appears interest is bubbling somewhere. Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said he recently spoke with Powderhorn co-owner Steve Bailey, who told Meis he arrived in his office one Monday morning to find 40 messages inquiring about the impending auction. Bailey could not be reached this week to find out from whom those inquiries came or whether they were from potential bidders.

“Who knows who’s talking and who’s doing? I don’t know of anyone doing at this point,” Meis said.

He added the county has not discussed buying the ski resort.

Whoever places a bid in August has some studying to do. Here’s how the bidding process will work, what’s on the auction block and what every bidder should know.


J.P. King Auction Co. will auction Powderhorn properties in six groups.

Group One: Powderhorn Ski Resort, including The Day Lodge, which houses The Sunset Grille restaurant, ski schools, a conference room, offices and ticketing and rental-retail amenities. This group includes two maintenance shops, three parking lots, four lifts and resort vehicles, such as Arctic Cats and four-wheelers.

Group Two: The Inn at Wildewood, complete with hotel and restaurant amenities. It includes 16 guest rooms.

Group Three: Seven development sites, ranging from 0.38 to 0.96 acre, spread throughout the ski area, to be sold individually.

Group Four: Approximately 1.15 acres for condominium development. A cement foundation and a parking garage have been installed for the future Mountain View Condominium development.

Group Five: Fifteen single-family lots in the Wildewood Subdivision, ranging from 0.19 to 0.27 acre, will sell individually. Five tracts, ranging from 0.69 to 8.86 acres, will sell as a whole.

Group Six: Approximately 700 acres of land below the ski area. The auction company says it’s a good candidate for developing homes or a golf-course community.


The sellers have the option to pull out of the deal if they feel the selling price is too low, but every property is selling absolute, which means there is no minimum bid.

Bidders can attend the auction in person or participate in a live bidding process online, but all have to register through J.P. King Auction Co. to participate. According to J.P. King Auction Co. Communications Manager Caley Newberry, the company will begin the bidding at an amount selected by the auctioneer based on what he or she feels the bidders involved would feel comfortable paying.

According to J.P. King’s website, registration will begin a few hours before the auction, and the bidding process will be explained before the live bid calling begins. Winning bidders will meet with representatives from the auction company and sign a sales contract and discuss a closing date, which usually takes place within a month of the auction.


The proud new owner will not have the option of spending money on the bid alone.

Powderhorn operates on U.S. Forest Service land under a special-use authorization per the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986. As a result, the new owner will have to submit a proposal for a new special-use authorization and demonstrate the financial and technical ability to operate the ski area. If the authorization comes through, the owner will have to pay fees.

Also, there are taxes to pay. Property taxes at the Inn at Wildewood, for example, are $5,032.26 in 2011, according to the Mesa County Assessor’s website, and the Day Lodge’s property taxes are $47,711.68 for 2011.

The Forest Service approved a master plan for improvements to the resort in 2002. It’s up to the new owner whether to implement elements of that plan.


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