MARYLAND SKI AREA FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION

MARYLAND SKI AREA FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION

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It appears that a woolly worm can’t defecate around any of our ski communities without someone letting us know seemingly the moment it happens! That’s a good thing I suppose ;-)

That said, we all know that the economy tanked for any business related to real estate over the last few years. With that in mind at nearly the same time that Wisp Resort expanded their ski and snowboarding terrain, built a top of the mountain white water rafting center and subsequently broke ground and built the Lodestone Golf Club – the economy tanked.

Lodestone boasts a stunning Hale Irwin Signature design and is located high atop Deep Creek Lake and the ski resort. Golfweek and Golf Magazine have rated Lodestone as one of the top three courses to play in the state of Maryland.

Obviously when the economy tanked, developments such as these mentioned take home site sales and that (in large part) hasn’t happened.

The owners of Wisp Resort have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-law protection while they try to resolve financial difficulties related to another business.

DC Development LLC, which owns Wisp Resort in Garrett County, announced the filing on Sunday and we began getting "whispers" about it on Monday.

Basically, the company has been unable to renegotiate the repayment of a $28.5 million loan with BB&T Corp. The loan was tied to the construction of the 18-hole golf course and community. The golf club property, which is near the ski resort, has experienced lackluster sales of home sites.

DC Development said Chapter 11 protection would allow it to work out its loan restructuring and provide "breathing room needed to continue to seek new investors for the companies."

The owners had been considering options including refinancing and finding additional investors.

Karen Myers, who is one of the three partners in Wisp Resort, said in August that the resort was a "very healthy, vibrant, profitable business," but that the real estate business had been struggling. According to some reports Myers could not be reached Monday.

Lisa Goodfellow, an associate broker with Goodfellow Real Estate Services, which specializes in Deep Creek Lake properties, said that since the recession, buyers were more inclined to purchase existing homes rather than new construction sites. That incite seems to be supported by MRIS data that reflects that only 42 lots have been sold in all of Garrett County so far in 2011, compared to 218 lots that were sold in the first nine months of 2010.

(MRIS is the Metropolitan Regional Information System…or that area’s MLS. We work with numerous MRIS clients – hence the access.)

As with all business ventures TIMING IS EVERYTHING and unfortunately Lodestone golfing community came on the market in 2008, just as the financial crisis hit.

JUST OUR TWO CENTS…

For what its worth I have met and had the opportunity to speak with Karen Myers and I can tell you that the owners of Wisp Resort and DC Development are savvy, caring business people with a genuine LOVE for all things Wisp and Garrett County. They bought Wisp Resort back in 2001 for just under $12 million and quickly went about investing in the resort and growing it with the brilliant synergies that most development companies merely give lip service to. One of the brilliant ideas that I remember talking with them about was the Adventure White Water center that worked by pulling water from Deep Creek Lake below…yet filtered the water to a point that continually helped to make Deep Creek Lake an even cleaner lake than it already was. In the winter they circulate that water under the snow pack and use the naturally cooled water to make snow on the mountain. All of that snow pack naturally flows right back to Deep Creek Lake.

Admittedly this is very over-simplified description of how things work up there, but these people have really paid extreme attention to working to grow the resort while protecting and even improving the environment and the community as a whole.

Wisp Resort has (undeniably) the most efficient, high tech, environmentally conscience snow making plant in the region and resorts worldwide have visited to gain insight as to how to implement systems like that at their locales.

For those unaware, Wisp and McHenry are a bit of an anomaly in that McHenry is much more visited during the summer months than during the winter. Deep Creek Lake is the HUGE tourism draw during those months, while Wisp Resort is vital to drawing tourists during the winter.

Recently Karen Myers of D.C. Development said a sale of Maryland’s only ski resort remains the LAST option she and her partners would pursue.

Wisp General Manager Tim Prather said he expects Wisp to open Nov. 25, weather permitting.

We implore our visitors to check out www.WispResort.com and pay these guys a visit this coming season. If you’ve not been there it offers a unique, family-oriented environment. They offer zip lining, mountain coastering, ice skating, amazing terrain parks, indoor swimming, one of the best snow tubing operations on the east coast and of course great ski and snowboarding terrain!

Feel free to comment to: mike@appnet.com

Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiNC.com and SkiSoutheast.com. Since September of 1996 he has written more than 2800 articles promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. While attending to the thousands of emails, photo submissions and On-Snow reports that come in all season long, Doble also owns and operates a full service web design and marketing company that has more than 800 clients in 30+ states and several countries. He shares that it was his passion for all things snow that prompted him to start the ski network and since that time the website has gained popularity through it's webcam and weather content as well. Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid snow and water skier, football freak of his alma mater (the University of South Carolina) and hearty promoter of all that is Western North Carolina to West Virginia and Maryland. Mike spends his off time with his horses, playing golf, tennis and boating on Watauga Lake with his family and friends, coaching local soccer teams and oh yes...Snow Skiing!