Northstar-at-Tahoe under new ownership |

Northstar-at-Tahoe under new ownership

Northstar at Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe and two other ski resorts will be sold to Florida-based CNL Income Properties for $170 million.

The transaction, which also includes Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and The Summit-at-Snoqualmie outside of Seattle, will follow a buyout of Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which is underway. Booth Creek was the fourth largest ski company in North America.

Booth Creek Chairman George Gillett, Jr., owner of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team and one of the nation’s largest meat packing companies, led the purchase of the ski company. Three other Booth Creek executives and a fourth investor were also part of the deal.

Although Booth Creek will no longer own the four ski resorts, it will continue to manage the resorts under a long-term lease with CNL. Visitors should notice no change in the operation of the resort, said Julie Maurer, Booth Creek’s vice president of marketing.

Booth Creek plans to keep its headquarter offices in the Pioneer Commerce Center in Truckee.

“We think this will be business as usual,” Maurer said.

The deal should allow the resort to ramp-up its ambitious development plans both on and off the mountain, she said.

“When you are doing capital improvements at your resort, you need a partner to do that development with,” Maurer said.

Northstar plans to add several new ski lifts and complete huge real estate developments at the base of the mountain, including the third phase of Northstar Village, 1,450 condominiums at Northstar Highlands and a Ritz Carlton hotel.

East West Partners is the company developing the base of the mountain. Roger Lessman, managing partner of East West, said the ownership change will not affect the construction schedule or plans.

“The faces are the same,” Lessman said. “The ownership has just changed.”

Lessman said the buyout may bring a renewed commitment to completing the real estate development at the mountain’s base.

Ski industry expert Michael Berry said the change at Booth Creek demonstrates the overall financial strength of skiing.

“We’re seeing a significant interest on the part of the investment community in the ski industry,” said Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. “It appears that the ski industry is a really attractive investment at this time.”

Berry said Fortress Investment’s purchase of Canadian ski giant Intrawest earlier in the year and Starwood Capital Group’s purchase of Mammoth Mountain illustrate the confidence in skiing.

Purchases like these are usually ways to raise financing for resort improvements, he said.

“This allows operators to do what they do best ” operate the ski resort,” said Berry. “In effect, it does not change much on the ground.”

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