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Marketing firm optimistic there's a buyer for Mount Baldy
Despite a history of financial struggles that kept the hill closed last season, the Mount Baldy Ski Corporation will still be of interest to the right buyer, according to the man tasked with selling the now-foreclosed business.
“Usually people who get involved in ski hills, they’re making their money somewhere else and the ski hill’s just nice to have,” said Gary Powroznik managing director of Vancouver-based G-Force Group.
“And so that’s why in a lot of cases small ski hills are kind of owned by people in the community,” he continued, adding, “I think there are probably people in the Okanagan who might be of that ilk.”
G-Force was approved earlier this month by a B.C. Supreme Court judge to sell the Mount Baldy Ski Corporation in order to pay off a creditor who sought the foreclosure order.
Powroznik said the creditor, an American lender operating under the name of Stark BC Venture, claims it’s owed $4.4 million, while the corporation’s total debt is likely closer to $10 million.
Since taking on the marketing job, G-Force has contacted 100 people in the industry and prepared detailed information packages, all in a bid to facilitate a quick sale, Powroznik explained, noting he’s seeking the best “business solution” to turn around the operation and begin paying back creditors.
“We’re trying to find someone quickly who will open for this year,” he said.
In a statement posted on the Mount Baldy Ski Corporation’s website in December 2013, president Brent Baker said owners hadn’t been able “to fund and complete our maintenance and certifications on the lifts,” so the usual Christmas-time opening had been cancelled.
“Plain and simple, Mount Baldy needs either a re-financing or an additional equity infusion in order to move forward,” Baker said.
Company owners could not be reached for comment this week, and the phone number for their Oliver office is no longer in service.
The hill, with two chair lifts serving 35 runs, is located about 35 kilometres east of Oliver. Assets included in the foreclosure include four development lots totalling18 hectares, ski lift equipment, plus other intangibles, like land tenure agreements with the B.C. government.
The site also boasts approximately 120 privately owned cabins, owners of which don’t appear to be in a rush to sell, with just one home — a four-bedroom, three-bathroom unit for $349,900 — posted on the Multiple Listing Service this week.
“The cabins up there are still way overpriced,” said Karen Amos, an Oliver realtor.
“Because just to have a cabin out there with no amenities, I don’t know how much they’ll be worth after the foreclosure.”
Amos said her family had a home at the skill hill years ago before the operation was purchased from a community group by American investors in 2004, and since the recession, the resort has become “a little stagnant.”
“The problem is there are no amenities up there. There’s no place for anybody to stay, there is no real restaurant, you can’t even rent a video up there,” she said.
“And ski hills make money on their peripheral areas, not just on the ski pass. And if they’re not making money in the other areas, that’s when they start getting into trouble, and Mount Baldy never did that.”