An Eagle investor and Salt Lake City businessman are making a second push to acquire the Osprey Meadows Golf Course at Tamarack Resort and, ultimately, the entire ski resort near Donnelly, where they initially want to invest up to $25 million.
James Roberts, managing member of JBR Holdings, an Eagle investment firm, is talking to various Tamarack ownership entities and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to square away a viable purchase ahead of a Feb. 21 Valley County tax deed auction on 18 undeveloped parcels at Tamarack, Roberts said.
Roberts and Walter J. Plumb III in May 2016 signed a purchase agreement for Osprey Meadows but later withdrew as efforts to acquire the remainder of Tamarack Resort assets failed.
“Just owning the golf course is not a smart investment,” Roberts said.
In the meantime, Tamarack Homeowners Acquisition Co. in an October Valley County tax deed auction and a separate September purchase acquired Tamarack’s unfinished mid-mountain lodge, two chairlifts, a zip line, three holes of the closed Osprey Meadows Golf Course, the golf pro shop and Tamarack Resort’s employee lounge. THAC is the business entity of the Tamarack Municipal Association, which is the homeowners association at Tamarack.
On Dec. 29, the Retired Security Plan and Trust put in a credit bid at a mortgage foreclosure sale auction to formalize its ownership of 15 holes of Osprey Meadows after Roberts and Plumb were the only other bidders. RSPT held the unpaid mortgage on Osprey Meadows since 2006 and thus essentially has “owned” the golf course since then.
“(RSPT) used the loan balance to acquire the golf course,” said T.J. Angstman, a Boise attorney representing RSPT.
RSPT sought a minimum $1.2 million bid and Roberts/Plumb bid only $500,000.
“We bid $500,000 on the off chance (RSPT was) just going to let it go,” Robert said. “The auction was on the steps of the courthouse. It was 2 degrees. They wanted an opening bid, and T.J. ended it with a credit bid and we went inside.”
The next Valley County tax deed auction is set for Feb. 21 for 18 undeveloped lots that the county now owns because of unpaid taxes and sewer bond loan payments.
Tamarack, 100 miles north of Boise, has been awash in bankruptcy, tax delinquencies and foreclosures sales since 2008. The resort was originally built in 2003 by developer Jean-Pierre Boespflug and had financial problems from the outset. Boespflug ultimately failed to appear at a 2011 court hearing and disappeared. Then in 2013, a former fiduciary for RSPT, Matt Hutcheson, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for fraud after raiding the RSPT fund for $3.276 million.
Roberts believes he can make deals with THAC and RSPT to acquire their holdings.
“RSPT is willing to go along if we are willing to give them $1.2 million for the golf course,” said Roberts, who once owned Wood River Cellars in Eagle. Regarding the homeowners’ holdings: “We cash them out for what they put in ($3.2 million).”
Brad Larsen, general manager of Tamarack Resort, did not return calls for this article, but in an October interview with the Idaho Business Review, he said: “This important milestone (THAC acquiring much of Tamarack) clears the way for the TMA to work with third-party developers and investors to realize the vision of Tamarack and reach its full potential.”
Angstman said: “Overall, there is a positive momentum working with TMA.”
The wildcard is $6.7 million in arrears on two sewer bonds that connected Tamarack Resort to the North Lake Recreational Sewer and Water Improvement District’s treatment system and upgraded the system. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality loaned the district $20.5 million to pay for three local improvement districts, or LIDs, at Tamarack for $5.6 million, $3.3 million and $11.6 million, said Barry Burnell, IDEQ’s water quality division administrator.
“Our ideal is the people who purchase these lots at the tax deed auction would pay their assessments to make the loans current,” Burnell said.
Roberts is hoping he can find a way to avoid making a $6.7 million lump sum payment.
“I’ve been having conversations on how we can work together with DEQ that they will agree to make the payment structure more viable,” Roberts said.
LID 1 is $759,000 in arrears on $4.1 million on the remaining balance and LID 3 is $6 million in arrears on a balance of $13.8 million. LID 2 payments are current on a $1.85 million balance, Burnell said.
“(Roberts) is proposing a payment schedule to us,” Burnell said. “We’re still looking at the legal aspects of a payment schedule. We’re questioning how that offers any relief to North Lake, (which owes the loan payments to IDEQ). There’s some questions about the liability of whether that offers any relief to the assessments.”
To complete the Tamarack acquisition, Roberts and Plumb would also need to acquire parcels at the unfinished Village Plaza owned by UWW of Puyallup, Wash., which also has unpaid taxes of about $1.5 million. Roberts said a purchase price has not been nailed down but it could range from $4 million to $8 million.
In all, Roberts and Plumb estimate an initial investment of $25 million to acquire all the Tamarack assets and complete a first phase of improvements. That would include finishing the exteriors of the village, building the first condo building with about 30 units and building a ticket sales building, he said.
The Feb. 21 tax deed auction and resolving the sewer bond payments could lay the groundwork to sell Osprey Meadows as well as the rest of Tamarack.
“When that happens, that’s when the golf course will sell,” Angstman said.