Mt Holly Utah Ski Area To Be Replaced By Luxury Playground?
SALT LAKE CITY A southern Utah ski area that shut down four years ago could be transformed into a private club for the rich and famous. A developer who said he holds rights to buy the once-bankrupt Elk Meadows ski area has plans for 1,200 trophy homes and condominiums, a Jack Nicklaus-commissioned golf course and other development totaling $3.5 billion – in a county where the total property value is less than $500 million. Elk Meadows, about halfway between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, would be modeled after the nation’s most exclusive ski resort, Montana’s Yellowstone Club, where members pay hefty fees and millions of dollars for a mountain home. Buyers at Elk Meadows will come from major cities in the West and beyond, Craig Button, managing partner of PCB Development LC of Holladay, said Wednesday. “We’ve got a number of reservations on a pre-sale basis that exceeded our expectations,” Button said. “We put them on hold until we can obtain necessary approvals.” The 450-acre ski area near Beaver comes with 1,400 acres of private land inside a national forest spanning Utah’s remote Tushar mountain range, where volcanic-shaped peaks top 12,000 feet. The setting is spectacular, but a succession of owners has struggled to make ends meet since Elk Meadows opened as a local ski hill in 1971, far from major urban centers and more popular Wasatch Range ski resorts near Salt Lake City. The latest proposal for Elk Meadows would gate off the ski area for members only, to the surprise and dismay of many Beaver residents. “Their initial reaction was a gasp for breath, with the realization they won’t have access up there,” Beaver County deputy attorney Leo Kernel said. Button unveiled his master plan Sept. 20 for county planners, who tabled the matter until Oct. 18. He said he was buying Elk Meadows from Litchfield Capital LLC of Mesa, Ariz., which is run by Phoenix lawyers Craig Campbell and Karl N. Huisch. Litchfield Capital was a silent investor for Elk Meadow’s last operator, Portland, Ore., businessman Wayne Case, who ran Elk Meadows for only a single winter, 2001-2002, before running out of money. Case borrowed from Nimbus Capital Partners of Holladay, which turned to Litchfield Capital for the balance of the financing, according to people familiar with the arrangements. Burton said he was offering to buy out owners of about 65 condominiums at Elk Meadows and wanted to demolish their units for expensive mountain homes. He said he also had secured rights to some 600 acres of private land around Puffer Lake, which he plans to connect to the ski area, adding high-speed chair lifts. Much of Burton’s plan depends on the cooperation of condo owners who may not let go of their units at the center of the ski area. Burton acknowledged he won’t be able to demolish any condos unless he secures all the units in a building. “A lot of them will choose not to sell, and we respect that,” he said. “We would expect them to respect our ownership rights, and then we’ll work through the issues.” The holdouts won’t be allowed to use his ski lifts, but Burton will have to arrange for them to get inside the gated communities. Burton said he had yet to make any offers on the 1970s-style condos.