An Idaho native, Dan Scott and his family have called McCall a second home for generations. In 2010, he assumed the role of president and general manager of Whitetail Club as well as Shore Lodge, the iconic 77-suite lakeside resort and eventually The Cove, a luxury spa that opened in 2011.
Scott is currently responsible for overseeing all aspects of hotel, spa and club operations for the Shore Lodge. He also manages real estate development and sales at Whitetail Club, including more than 250 custom home sites and built product ranging from cabins to estate homes.
With Idaho’s record population growth, those real estate offerings are becoming an increasingly important part of the company’s business.
Scott sat down with the Idaho Business Review to talk about the Shore Lodge building boom and other real estate issues. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Whitetail Lakefront Clubhouse was the first place winner for the restoration category in IBR’s 2018 Top Projects awards. It was clearly a significant project with great attention to detail.
It was quite a project. It turned out as a great club on the lake. It’s a neat spot on the lake. Payette Lake is a special place in McCall. It is a game changer for us to get a clubhouse on the lake.
Your company began with custom luxury homes and diversified from there. Why have you gone that direction?
We have been really busy the past three or four years adding facilities for the club and Shore Lodge. We still have some wonderful view properties. A couple of years ago, buyers wanted more of a turnkey solution. They wanted to join a community and not have to find an architect to build in a mountain environment. We started with a small project that is our cabin collection. It quickly sold out, a community of 18 cabins.
We started two projects — one has been underway for a year. That has been incredibly successful. It is a 23-unit neighborhood. We’ve also started on a development called The Fairway that is on the golf course. We had 25 acres that we were holding back on the fairway, and we are developing 34 townhomes. It received final plat this summer.
The Shore Lodge cottages, that one is a real turnkey. You pick a couple of paint colors and one of three furniture packages. Our buyers have liked that.
The Fairways, there are two main models and two or three alternatives or options within those models. There are two interior packages. The combinations you can pick, you can get something semi-customizable, but it is not the full blown design process. We have done the heavy lifting, but it doesn’t look like your neighbor.
How many of your buyers are Boise residents vs. from other parts of Idaho or other states? Do you see any trends like more people buying from out of state?
Our club makeup, even in the last year, was 50 percent from the Treasure Valley and 50 percent from out of state. We don’t see very much business from other parts of Idaho. We have a few people who have come from Sun Valley, the occasional person from North Idaho. Outside the state, the majority of those are from California.
You are taking the lead on employee housing in McCall. Why is that important? Do you foresee more McCall companies offering employee housing? This seems to be a trend in resort communities across the country.
I’m not sure if we had a choice. McCall has become a destination resort town. There has been a need. We have had employee housing forever, but not nearly in the magnitude we do now. The short-term rental market for homes took them out of the rental pool. We had to fill that need ourselves. We have 120 beds in employee housing, and we are two-thirds of the way through a 16,000-square-foot apartment complex. They are eight-quad units. That adds to traditional apartments and dormitories. It is necessary to get the seasonal employees that we have.
We use a lot of visa workers from a couple of visa programs They require housing. When we bring in seasonal workers, we have to provide housing.
The main program we use is a J-1 visa. It is program for university students in other countries. That is fun to have those college kids here working. We also do an H2-B. It is a more traditional foreign worker program that is also seasonal.
We are ahead of the curve there. I know a number of other companies are figuring out ways to develop workforce housing.
It is happening in Boise as well. What is unique in McCall is how seasonal we are. It really throws the economics off for a developer. A developer in Boise can rent the units out 12 months and make a return. It is trickier in a seasonal market like McCall. We only have the need for three months in the summer and two months in the winter. That is why employers are doing it themselves as the cost of doing business.
How is Idaho’s incredible growth impacting McCall?
I think it is relatively managed. We are at the north end of a valley, so there is not the geography for growth like in the Treasure Valley. Development in McCall is much more measured compared to what you see in Boise. We will continue to see it.
Excepts from this interview also appear in the 2019 edition of Idaho Heartland Living, which hits newsstands on March 29.