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Originally published Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 8:13 AM

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Judge: Tamarack group can intervene in lawsuit

A judge will let Tamarack Resort homeowners intervene in a foreclosure lawsuit against the failed Idaho vacation getaway but refused to endorse their plan to use a Mexican real-estate lender's cash to save the ski season.

Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho —

A judge will let Tamarack Resort homeowners intervene in a foreclosure lawsuit against the failed Idaho vacation getaway but refused to endorse their plan to use a Mexican real-estate lender's cash to save the ski season.

In his decision Tuesday, 4th District Court Judge Patrick Owen wrote he'll allow nine homeowners in the West Mountain Preservation Management Association to make their arguments, despite his "concerns that this is not a proper case for intervention."

The group wants to tap a $7.9 million loan from Mexico-based Inmobiliaria Las Fuentes, S.A. de C.V. to hire a new receiver to reopen the resort.

Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group and others owed more than $300 million by Tamarack after it defaulted on a construction loan are fighting the plan, on grounds the Mexican firm has made being repaid before existing creditors a condition of the deal. Inmobiliaria Las Fuentes also demands a new deed of trust for 80 acres of platted resort property.

"The decision to permit intervention by this court is not intended to express, and does not express, any view that the court will appoint a receiver as requested," Owen wrote.

Owen didn't say when he plans to hear arguments.

He'll likely have to act soon, however, if for no other reason than winter is fast descending on central Idaho; other ski areas in the mountainous region aim to open in less than a month. Tamarack is about 90 miles north of Boise.

If Tamarack misses the 2009-2010 ski season, homeowners who bought property at the height of the vacation real-estate bubble are fearful the resort will be pushed ever closer to being dismantled and sold off at salvage prices. More than 100 people or organizations have written in support of the group's plan to reopen Tamarack, including the Idaho Department of Commerce and local businesses that have suffered since Tamarack closed down last March.

Bill Ciraco, a member of the homeowner group, says Tamarack must be reopened, at least on a limited basis, to preserve assets for a potential new investor and to bolster the value of adjacent properties like his own that have taken a beating amid uncertainty over the resort's future.

"We look forward to coming back and presenting our case as to why we believe the appointment of the receiver is necessary and critical at this point in time," said Ciraco, a New York City trader. "We believe without a receiver in place to protect, preserve, maintain and operate the assets at Tamarack, that irreparable financial damage will occur."

Owen has said he's sympathetic to homeowners' plight, but the judge's order this week indicates he thinks their proposal may be a longshot.

The homeowner group "asserts that it has an interest in making sure the resort will reopen for winter operations, regardless of whether that is something that Tamarack or Credit Suisse is willing or able to accomplish," the judge wrote. "The court has doubts that intervention for this purpose is appropriate."

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Duncan King, a Credit Suisse spokesman in New York, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Before the resort was shuttered earlier this year by a previous receiver, Credit Suisse said it was producing losses far beyond the bank's expectations as many vacationers stayed away. In his order on Tuesday, Owen said the new proposal anticipates little change.

"As the court understands the proposal, the resort would not operate at a profit," he wrote. "In fact, it is projected that operations...would continue to generate significant losses."

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