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Originally published March 3, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Page modified March 3, 2009 at 4:58 PM

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Idaho's Tamarack ski resort shutting down

Idaho's Tamarack resort shuts down; ski and summer resort was caught in tangle of foreclosures plus a lack of visitors and slow real-estate sales

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BOISE, Idaho — Tamarack Resort in north-central Idaho, once hailed as America's newest all-season resort but now mired in foreclosure lawsuits, is shutting down.

The resort 90 miles north of Boise opened in December 2004 intending to lure vacationers from across the nation for winter fun on its ski slopes. Summer visitors had an array of options, including an 18-hole golf course.

On Tuesday, its Web site announced: "As of March 4, 2009, Tamarack Resort is no longer operating." Employees were told at the end of February of the resort's impending closure.

Tamarack recently was run by a court-appointed receiver, San Diego, Calif.-based Douglas Wilson Co.

The resort was being financed by real-estate sales. Development plans called for more than 2,000 lots to be sold over the next 15 years to pay for $1.5 billion in expansion.

But those plans began to stall with the credit crisis and sputtering economy. Then last year Bank of America threatened to remove two ski lifts after Tamarack Resort fell behind on lease payments.

A $250 million loan ran out, real-estate sales slumped and construction on the resort ground to a halt.

Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf bailed out of the project and, while owners sought new money, Zurich-based Credit Suisse successfully ousted them from management. Douglas Wilson Co. stepped in to manage the project as its finances — and multiple court cases — get sorted out.

Ski lifts opened in December, but skier visits hit just 27,000 this year through late January as the national economy faltered and snow conditions were less than optimal, leaving the resort with an operating deficit of $304,000 as of Jan. 23 — more than twice the deficit anticipated.

In January, Tamarack's largest shareholder, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, said talks with potential buyers had collapsed due to credit-market turbulence, the precarious state of resort real estate, and Tamarack's unresolved financial problems.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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