Hermitage Club and Founder Facing Growing Number of Lawsuits and Foreclosures
The private ski club at Haystack faces an uncertain future.
Friday, March 30, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
As the dire financial situation at the private Hermitage Club comes to light, lawsuits and foreclosure filings continue to grow.
According to the Brattleboro Reformer, three plaintiffs have filed suit alleging they paid Hermitage founder Jim Barnes for new townhomes, only to find out in late 2017 that they had not been constructed. The plaintiffs reportedly advanced more than $2 million toward the project, after allegedly being told that construction was progressing. According to attorney Erin Miller Heins, "Barnes had a duty to bring the lack of progress and return of funds to Plaintiffs' attention. Instead of bringing the lack of construction progress and return of funds to Plaintiffs' attention, Barnes willfully and repeatedly concealed these facts and gave Plaintiffs false information to the contrary."
Heins alleges that Barnes allocated the plaintiffs funds to "his own use and enjoyment and/or that of Hermitage."
Deerfield Valley News reports that three prospective condominium owners are also suing, alleging they have not been able to take ownership of the units they paid Hermitage for, because the units are encumbered by contractor liens.
Meanwhile, three entities have filed to foreclose on the Hermitage Club, the largest being Berkshire Bank for $17.1 million. Two former inn owners have also filed to foreclosure, alleging the Hermitage Club is in default of their mortgage agreements for the acquisition of their inns.
Contractors and vendors are also suing the Hermitage, claiming they were not paid for services and/or goods provided. Reinhart Food Service is seeking over $1.5 million.
In addition, Deerfield Valley News reports the Town of Wilmington has filed a lien for $819,381 on various Hermitage Club properties for back taxes. Hermitage Club has also been facing issues with the Vermont Department of Taxes, including a temporary closure order.
Located in the Deerfield Valley near Mount Snow, the club features the Haystack ski area, a golf course, and numerous inns and restaurants. Hermitage founder Jim Barnes acquired the defunct Haystack ski area in October 2011 and soon installed two new fixed grip quad chairlifts. An 80,000 square foot lodge was constructed for 2014-15 and a $7.3 million heated, high speed detachable six person chairlift for 2015-16.
Barnes stepped down from day to day management in February and is reportedly facing facing sex discrimination and whistleblower complaints.