The Independents

Mountain Life
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Mountain Life

Big Sky, Mont.

Boyne USA, which has owned Big Sky since 1976, plans a village well more than three times what's now on the ground. The master plan calls for 7,500 "single-family equivalents," a unit of measure equal to a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium. To date about 2,000 SFEs have been built; the balance-including 2,000 to be developed by the resort-will be constructed over the next two decades on about 500 acres.

"We built our resort in reverse," says company spokeswoman Maclaren Johnson. "We first focused on the ski area. We let our real estate appreciate around it. Ten years ago people would come to Big Sky and say, where are all the lodges and amenities?"

This past winter the company was marketing units in its 106-unit Summit Condominium Hotel at prices from $289,000 to $1.2 million. Projects on the drawing board run the gamut, from 20-acre parcels of land to timeshare condo units, and from 550-square-foot studios to 3,000-square-foot penthouses.

The focus of the development is on ski-in/ski-out access. Buyers seem to like the idea; on average, developments here pre-sell to the tune of about 65 percent.

"Our target is mainly the Florida-Georgia market," says Johnson. However, with a significant presence in the upper Midwest (it owns Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan), Big Sky is also drawing buyers from that region.

For more information, contact: (406) 995-2000; www.bigskyresort.com.

Crested Butte, Colo.

A four-way land swap consummated in November between the U.S. Forest Service, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the Colorado State Lands Board and a local rancher has provided the ski area with 558 acres of land adjacent to its existing base. While no development plan has been put forward yet, CBMR president Edward Callaway promises to "preserve the big green areas, build community housing and cluster new development."

In the meantime, plans are progressing for a $60 million redevelopment on 12 acres at the area's base, the village of Mount Crested Butte. "We are an alternative to the big resorts," says Callaway, "but we have to be a viable alternative."

CBMR is waiting for a court decision that will help settle whether the town can issue $12 million in revenue bonds to be used toward redevelment. That decision should come some time in the spring of 1999. If they get the green light, resort officials plan to build a 720-space parking garage, a conference center and a 250-room Hilton hotel. The garage will be 1,000 feet from the ski lifts; visitors will walk through a revitalized pedestrian corridor that will include a renovated Sheraton hotel.

Relative to other base redevelopments, this one should be quick. Once the dirt starts flying, work should be completed in 12 months. What remains to be seen, after a good deal of sniffing by Vail, Intrawest, American Skiing Co. and others, is whether somebody will decide that Crested Butte-now possessing fresh land-is a resort worth buying.

For more information, contact: (970) 349-2210; www.crestedbutteresort.com.

Jackson Hole, Wyo.

When the Kemmer family bought Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in 1992, it may have had an eye on 25 developable acres at the base of the ski area. Since then the company has worked on securing development rights for a base village, granted by Teton County last March. As that process was ending, the company faced a critical choice: What do we want to be now that we've grown up?

The result was a 180-degree turn from what Jackson used to be. It isn't just a mountain operator; it is a real estate developer. "I think there's a clear recognition today that the economics of ski areas require you to be both," says Peter Forsch, vice president of planning and development at the company. "To be in the ski business requires you to be in the real estate business."

That conclusion led Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to undertake a $300 million base village project on its own, rather than in partnership with Intrawest or another suitor. Teton Village, to be redeveloped over the next five to 10 years, will boost the resort base from 2,000 to 5,200 pillows. The resort owns two-thirds of the development rights, and three-fourths of the land, in the village's newly master planned area.

The first fruits came on the market over Christmas. The 37-unit Teton Club, a fractional-ownership development, offers three- to five-week ownership packages at prices from $50,000 to $200,000. The Moose Creek Townhomes, also 37 units, are located about a half mile southwest of the base. Moose Creek units hit the market with asking prices in the $800,000 to $900,000 range-about $400 a square foot.

The resort has bought back on-mountain restaurants, acquired retail shops and purchased three property management companies-all acquisitions that will help the company collect more of the money tourists spend on a vacation. This strategy, common to the resort renaissance marriage of base and mountain, depends on warm beds. "In the core village area, most everything we're doing is hotel, fractional ownership or the kind of condominium properties that have a propensity to go into the rental pool-smaller units, not a huge cost, good rent-ability," says Forsch.

Teton Village's revival comes after a 15-year drought in base area development, says Bob Graham, president of Real Estate of Jackson Hole. "It's hard to know what the new development will do to the existing properties," Graham says, "but there's no question in my mind it will have a negative impact on rentals and prices of older condos, particularly at the high end."

For more information, log on to www.jacksonhole.com/ski.

Snowbasin, Utah

For nearly 60 years, Snowbasin has been a sleepy little ski resort with a handful of lifts, a tiny day lodge and a reputation for deep, untracked powder. With the 2002 Olympic downhill coming to Snowbasin, that's about to change.

Four new lifts-a detachable quad, two eight-passenger gondolas and a 15-person tram-opened this winter at Snowbasin, located 17 miles from Ogden and 52 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. In the next year, the resort plans to add an extensive snowmaking system, a bigger base lodge and on-mountain restaurants, bringing the tab for first phase on-mountain improvements to a cool $70 million.

Then comes the village. Thanks to a controversial U.S. Forest Service land exchange-championed by Snowbasin (and Sun Valley, Idaho) owner Earl Holding-the resort has about 1,320 prime acres at its base for development. While nothing has been formally proposed, preliminary plans call for 800 condos, several hundred homes and a few hotels.

Gray Reynolds, a former U.S. Forest Service deputy chief who was wooed out of retirement to oversee Snowbasin's rebirth, stresses that Holding hasn't settled on a plan yet. And once units hit the market with asking prices in the $800,000 to $900,000 range-about $400 a square foot.

The resort has bought back on-mountain restaurants, acquired retail shops and purchased three property management companies-all acquisitions that will help the company collect more of the money tourists spend on a vacation. This strategy, common to the resort renaissance marriage of base and mountain, depends on warm beds. "In the core village area, most everything we're doing is hotel, fractional ownership or the kind of condominium properties that have a propensity to go into the rental pool-smaller units, not a huge cost, good rent-ability," says Forsch.

Teton Village's revival comes after a 15-year drought in base area development, says Bob Graham, president of Real Estate of Jackson Hole. "It's hard to know what the new development will do to the existing properties," Graham says, "but there's no question in my mind it will have a negative impact on rentals and prices of older condos, particularly at the high end."

For more information, log on to www.jacksonhole.com/ski.

Snowbasin, Utah

For nearly 60 years, Snowbasin has been a sleepy little ski resort with a handful of lifts, a tiny day lodge and a reputation for deep, untracked powder. With the 2002 Olympic downhill coming to Snowbasin, that's about to change.

Four new lifts-a detachable quad, two eight-passenger gondolas and a 15-person tram-opened this winter at Snowbasin, located 17 miles from Ogden and 52 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. In the next year, the resort plans to add an extensive snowmaking system, a bigger base lodge and on-mountain restaurants, bringing the tab for first phase on-mountain improvements to a cool $70 million.

Then comes the village. Thanks to a controversial U.S. Forest Service land exchange-championed by Snowbasin (and Sun Valley, Idaho) owner Earl Holding-the resort has about 1,320 prime acres at its base for development. While nothing has been formally proposed, preliminary plans call for 800 condos, several hundred homes and a few hotels.

Gray Reynolds, a former U.S. Forest Service deputy chief who was wooed out of retirement to oversee Snowbasin's rebirth, stresses that Holding hasn't settled on a plan yet. And once there is a proposal, it will have to clear the usual government hurdles. "But the long-term commitment," says Reynolds, "is to have a four-season village similar to Sun Valley."

But there is no other resort quite like Snowbasin because it has no infrastructure. "This is going to take a little longer. These are lands that haven't been developed," Reynolds says. A fast-track schedule could have some units built for the Olympics, but that's not a done deal. "It's hard to say if it will be two years or 10 years," says Reynolds.

For more information, call: (801) 399-1135.

nce there is a proposal, it will have to clear the usual government hurdles. "But the long-term commitment," says Reynolds, "is to have a four-season village similar to Sun Valley."

But there is no other resort quite like Snowbasin because it has no infrastructure. "This is going to take a little longer. These are lands that haven't been developed," Reynolds says. A fast-track schedule could have some units built for the Olympics, but that's not a done deal. "It's hard to say if it will be two years or 10 years," says Reynolds.

For more information, call: (801) 399-1135.