Burke Mountain Seeks Buyer

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East Burke, VT, July 17, 2000--B&I Lending, which pulled out of a $1 million loan and started foreclosure proceedings on Burke MountainResort after two disappointing seasons, announced it might have a buyer for the ski area. But that deal, which currently amounts to a letter of intent, might fall through if the courts don't speed up the foreclosure. The name of the potential buyer is being kept under wraps.

According to a motion filed in Caledonia Superior Court, Edward Zuccaro, attorney for B&I, says an interested buyer was ready to spend "little more than half the outstanding debt" on Burke, estimated at just shy of $5 million. Zuccaro adds that the buyer needs to begin preparations for the coming season soon, arguing that the resort value would be dramatically reduced if it did not open for the 2000-2001 season. But three businesses that are owed money by The Northern Star Ski Corp., owners of Burke, are fighting the push to speed up foreclosure, saying they need more time and want proof that the debt exceeds the resort's value and that failing to open this season would substantially lower that value.

Though B&I Lending loaned the resort money in the spring of last year because of cash-flow trouble, this year it decided not to take the risk, leaving the resort without operating capital, said Burke President AndyHolmes this past spring.

Northern Star took over ownership of Burke in December of 1995 and invested about $11 million into infrastructure and marketing efforts, seeing increasing skier visits over the first three winters until poor snow seasons helped reverse the trend. Holmes has said the resort has been unable to pay state taxes since February and owes condominium owners some rental income.