Saddleback Mountain Community Resort Announces 30% of Funds Raised Thus Far
The group needs to raise $4 million to purchase the closed ski area.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
In a web posting yesterday, Saddleback Mountain Community Resort (SMCR) CEO Peter Stein announced the group has "crossed $1.2 million on the way towards our $4 million goal." The group plans to purchase the closed ski area once $4 million is raised.
SMCR, LLC was formed as a Maine limited liability corporation on August 29, 2016. In addition, Saddleback Mountain Foundation was reserved as a potential non-profit entity on October 25, 2016.
Under the current plan, upon raising $4 million, SMCR will put down a $500,000 depositand be allowed to operate the ski area for members if the agreement is signed in time for 2016-17 ski operations. An additional $1.7 million would be transferred at closing, while $1.8 million would be retained as operating capital.
According to Stein's web posting, $600,000 has been raised in membership sales and $600,000 in matching gifts.
If the transaction is completed as planned, the Saddleback Mountain Foundation non-profit would own the ski area real estate, while SMCR would operate the resort.
The group has announced it will need to raise an additional $3 million by June in order to replace the Rangeley double chairlift with a fixed grip quad. Long term, the group plans to install six more lifts, including a high speed detachable lift serving new terrain.
The group hopes to raise $25 million in capital funds, including governmental and non-governmental grants. The group's plans can be viewed at skisaddlebackme.com.
The latest Saddleback saga started on July 20, 2015, when the Berry family announced they had two weeks to place an order for a replacement for the Rangeley double chairlift, or else it would close the ski area. The family was unable to obtain financing.
Heirs to a large insurance company, Bill and Irene Berry purchased the Rangeley ski area and thousands of acres surrounding it for a reported $8 million in 2003, following an announcement from prior owner Donald Breen that it would close. Two new quad chairlifts were installed in subsequent years in conjunction with a major base lodge expansion. The Oquossoc Cove Marina was added to the fold in 2009.
After obtaining is B.S. in civil engineering from Lehigh University in 1955, M.S.T. in biology-geology from Colby College in 1966, and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1970, Archie "Bill" Berry Jr. joined the faculty of the University of Maine at Farmington. A longtime Saddleback skier, Berry purchased a condo near the ski area in the early 1990s and retired from UMF in 1996. Berry's son Mark worked at Sugarloaf and ran Titcomb Mountain ski area (to which Bill Berry made significant contributions).
In 1971, the U.S. Investment Corporation was founded, which would include Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company and US Underwriters Insurance Company. On August 8, 2000, Berkshire Hathaway acquired the U.S. Investment Corporation for an estimated $160 million in stock, mainly transferred to the extended Berry family.
On July 28, 2003, Saddleback, Inc. and Saddleback Land & Timber Corp. were incorporated in the State of Maine. Bill Berry, his wife Irene Berry, and their seven children soon took ownership of the 8,000 acre Saddleback tract via their corporations.
Since 2005, Saddleback has entered into multi-million dollar financing agreements with UnitedKinfield Bank, Camden National Bank, Skowhegan Savings Bank (via Finance Authority of Maine), and Coastal Enterprises Inc.
The Berry family placed the ski area on the market in 2012.
In recent years, members of the Berry family have loaned money to both corporations.
In May 2014, the Berrys sold 1,750 acres of land to generate funds.
In December 2015, the Berrys announced a prospective sale had delayed the start of the season and therefore offered season passholders a credit or refund.
In January 2016, Hertz placed a lien on Saddleback for non payment. Associated Design Partners, Inc. followed suit in March 2016.
Various non-skiing functions have been held at the ski area in 2016.