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Investors hoping to revive Elk Meadows

Published: Thursday, Dec. 30 2004 9:26 a.m. MST

A group of Utah investors repossessed Elk Meadows ski area in southern Utah and hopes to see it reopened "under the right management."

Nimbus Loan Fund of Holladay is entertaining offers from groups that want to take over the 450-acre ski area near Beaver.

That's one thing going against Elk Meadows: It is far from any major urban center and can offer lodging for only 250 guests. But it could operate like nearby Brian Head ski resort, which attracts most of its skiers from Las Vegas and others from California.

Kip Pitou, president of the marketing cooperative Ski Utah, says Elk Meadows could evolve into a larger, destination resort with more lodging and investors willing to endure the long haul.

The resort may be remote, he said, but so is Telluride, Colo., which attracts a loyal following.

"It's not going to be easy. You need some foresight to make it happen there," Pitou said.

The skiing covers only 450 acres on a 1,400-foot vertical drop, but Elk Meadows comes with 1,400 acres of private land, and Pitou said it could double the vertical drop by running lifts up 12,000-foot Mount Holly in the Tushar mountain range, a group of volcanic peaks that average more than 400 inches of snowfall a year.

Nimbus "thinks it can become an operating resort under the right management," said Salt Lake attorney James Magleby, who represents the private-equity fund. "There's no doubt it can be returned to its prior glory and a great stop between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas."

Elk Meadows is 244 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

First opened in 1971 as a local ski hill, its most recent owner was Oregon businessman Wayne Case, whose Meadows Operation Inc. filed for bankruptcy.

Case was able to run Elk Meadows for only a single season, 2001-02, before closing it.

The Associated Press was unable to reach Case or Marc Jenson, a principal for Nimbus Loan Fund, which reportedly invested $3.6 million in the ski area, refinancing its prior debt when Case took over.

Nimbus recovered the resort property for $1 million at a Monday bankruptcy auction, deputy Beaver County attorney Leo Kanell said.

Kanell said Elk Meadows owes nearly $182,000 in property taxes for the past two years, plus more than $1 million in special district fees for road and water upgrades.

Beaver County could foreclose on the property for nonpayment of taxes but is willing to negotiate terms with any credible successor — "somebody good" who can reopen the ski area, he said.

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