Saddleback Reportedly Nearing Purchase and Sale Agreement
The prospective buyer has a goal of reopening the defunct ski area this winter.
Sunday, July 14, 2019, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Sandy Chairlift, July 2019
Arctaris Impact Fund is close to obtaining a purchase and sale agreement on the idle Saddleback ski area, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Based out of Boston, Arctaris Impact Fund was formed in 2018 to "invest in Low and Moderate Income communities throughout the U.S., addressing underserved and underbanked businesses that are poised for growth." The fund is a subsidiary of Arctaris, which was founded in 2009. According to the company's web site, Arctaris's co-founder is Jonathan D. Tower, who worked for Fidelity and IBM. Former Maine Winter Sports Center (Big Rock, Black Mountain, and Quoggy Jo) CEO Andy Shepard has been involved in the deal.
According to the Portland Press Herald, Arctaris has proposed to invest $25 million to $30 million to reopen Saddleback. The firm is reportedly looking into Opportunity Zone and immigrant investor programs for the Saddleback proposal. While Saddleback is not located in an Opportunity Zone, the Finance Authority of Maine recently approved $10 million in Opportunity Zone loan guarantees for Arctaris, though the firm denies the financing is related to its Saddleback deal.
Tower stated that reopening for the 2019-20 season is "still a goal, but not a certainty."
Saddleback Base Lodge, July 2019
A visit to Saddleback last week revealed an idle base lodge missing many shingles and no sign of on-mountain work. Chairs were taken off the lines of the Kennebago, Sandy, and South Branch chairlifts in 2017 and remain on the ground adjacent to the base terminals. Chairs are still hanging on the Rangeley double chairlift, the condition of which was reported as a contributing factor to the closure of the area in 2015.
Rangeley Chairlift, July 2019
The Saddleback saga dates back to July 2015, when the Berry family, owners of the ski area since 2003, announced the Rangeley double chairlift was "at end of its useful life" and that operations would cease if the lift could not be replaced. The lift was not replaced and the ski area sat idle for the following two winters.
On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced Saddleback was being sold to the Majella Group. At that time, Majella announced the sale would be completed later in the summer and the area would reopen with a new fixed grip quad chairlift and T-Bar. The deal was never completed, the lifts never installed, and the area never reopened. Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour was arrested for alleged investor fraud June 2018. Majella's Portland, Maine development company, 32 Thomas Street LLC, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2019. Majella branding has been removed from the Saddleback web presence.