Once considered a done deal, a planned ski resort near Steamboat Springs, Colo., suffered a major setback in early June when the principal investor pulled out.
Houston-based spokesman Jack Crumpler said
the decision by Mitchell Energy to "no longer participate in the
funding and active development" of Lake Catamount doesn't kill the
resort. But it does stop the project in its tracks before a
shovel-full of earth has been turned. - 'A hiatus' is a good choice
of words," said Crumpler.
Lake Catamount Joint
Venture - a partnership between Mitchell and former Steamboat
Springs ski area owner Martin Hart - had so far spent $20 million
while seeking other investors. Mitchell Energy, which provided the
bulk of the funding to date, will retain its majority ownership
stake in Lake Catamount and hopes to split it 50-50 with a future
investor, according to Joint Venture manager Jerry
Mitchell Energy, which is listed on the
New York Stock Exchange, recently went through a corporate
restucturing. That resulted in Mitchell's decision to pull back
fromLake Catamount and to focus on Mitchell's 25,000-acre
Houston-area development, The Woodlands, destined for 52,000
The 3,266-acre Lake Catamount
proposal, which got a Forest Service go-ahead in 1993, called for a
new ski area seven miles south of Steamboat Springs capable of
hosting 12,000 skiers per day - about the same capacity as
Steamboat Springs' existing ski area on Mt. Werner. A marina, two
golf courses, 3,750 condominiums and single-family homes, and
hotels and shops were also planned.
Steamboat Springs office is being closed and staff let go. "I
thought I'd spend the rest of my career here," said Blann, who
previously ran the Big Bear, Calif., and Aspen, Colo., ski resorts.
"But things happen."
The Catamount resort has
been controversial since it was proposed as a venue for the 1976
Olympics. "I think the town is very relieved," said Peter Van De
Carr, owner of Back Door Sports and a 17-year Steamboat Springs
resident. "It was one of those projects that we didn't have control
over. It wasn't a natural, evolving kind of thing. It didn't evolve
for the needs of skiing or business or more housing. It was
something that was going to change the nature of the town very
The Forest Service permit issued
for Lake Catamount requires the master development plan for the
resort to be completed by 1998, and construction on the first phase
- the ski area - initiated by 2003. Should those deadlines be
missed, the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest Supervisor would
decide whether to revoke the permit.
Crumpler insist that won't happen. "It is our intention," Crumpler
said, "to maintain the validity of the permit." But, he added,
"there are so many unanswered questions."
recent boom in mountain real estate has not been sufficient to draw
big money to the project, which Blann estimated would take 25 to 30
years to build out. The first phase, he said, would cost $100
million; he wouldn't venture a guess as to the
"The real estate situation in this town and
all over the Western Slope is just moving so fast," said
businessman Van De Carr. "I'm really glad to slow it down a little
bit. I'd almost rather see an economic recession than have such
Hal Clifford writes
from Aspen, Colorado.