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Originally published Friday, October 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Idaho's struggling Tamarack ski resort vows to open

Foreclosure threatened, resort building is stalled at Tamarack ski/golf resort near Boise

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — Tamarack Resort's biggest owner plans to open skiing in December but won't commit to keeping the troubled central Idaho resort afloat through the end of the season without additional investors or a new buyer, according to federal bankruptcy court documents.

Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pierre Boespflug, who controls 50.6 percent of Tamarack, was in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Thursday, fighting investment bank Credit Suisse's efforts to start foreclosure on the ski, golf and lake resort in Donnelly, about 90 miles north of Boise.

Boespflug since April has made more than $11 million in loans — largely from personal funds — to the resort, according to court documents. Unless talks with a buyer or investor are successful, Boespflug wouldn't promise to keep the money flowing.

"It is very likely that the ski hill would open," Boespflug said in a deposition taken by Credit Suisse lawyers on Sept. 26 that's part of the bankruptcy court record. "It's uncertain it would operate for the whole season if there is no cash infusion."

The resort posted a loss of $28.9 million through early August, according to the documents.

Boespflug and Alfredo Miguel Afif, who owns some 26 percent of the resort, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for their real-estate companies earlier this year after defaulting on a $260 million loan syndicated by Credit Suisse.

Now, Boespflug is trying to rescue the millions he's invested in Tamarack by convincing a judge he's still capable of finding new investors, even as the nation's credit market tightens. Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers may not issue a decision this week in Credit Suisse's motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case.

Interviewed Thursday by The Associated Press, Boespflug, a native of Nice, France, declined to provide firm guarantees regarding the resort's schedule this year.

"Some of the shops might not have the perfect inventory of goods, some things like that. But the resort is going to be open," he said. "As the conversation with the buyers are positive, which they are now, we anticipate to fund. We are predicting a positive outcome to this conversation by the end of October and if not, we are prepared to underwrite funding until after Christmas."

Construction on Tamarack's Village Plaza centerpiece is at a standstill, tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf bailed out of a luxury hotel project and Bank of America and Sterling Bank foreclosed on the resort's conference center and employee housing earlier this summer.

Bank of America also threatened to remove two ski lifts on which Tamarack had fallen behind on payments. The resort kept the lifts after making the necessary payments.

Boespflug estimates at least $56 million is necessary to complete Village Plaza.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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