It seems like it’s been all bad news for Vermont’s ski resort boom. This past spring, the SEC investigation of Bill Stenger and Ari Quiros’s EB-5 projects put a grinding halt to the expansion of Jay Peak and the resort formally known as Q Burke.
But this week there’s good news: First, the brand new Burke hotel will open on September 1, according to the court-appointed receiver, Michael Goldberg. We had a chance to visit Burke this past weekend and poke around the hotel. In a word, it is gorgeous, with stunning views north to the dramatic gap Lake Willoughby forms between Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor. Closed, the hotel sat silent, waiting with staff uniforms hanging in the closets, artwork on the walls and, yes, a few “Qs” still on the signs. By September those should disappear.
Second, Mount Snow’s EB-5 project, aimed at raising more than $52 million to expand snowmaking to 100 percent of the terrain and to build a new base lodge, has had the blessing of the federal regulatory body to go forward.
Peak Resorts, Inc. (SKIS), the owner and operator of Mount Snow, announced that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved the company’s Mount Snow EB-5 program.
The related $52 million in funds raised from investors for the Mount Snow development projects will be released from escrow immediately following the approval of the first I-526 Petition submitted by an investor in the Mount Snow EB-5 offering. Historically, the petition approvals occur shortly after program approval.
While awaiting this USCIS approval, the company invested more than $12 million in project construction since May 2015. Peak Resorts will be reimbursed for that spending as the committed funds are released from escrow.
USCIS approval of an I-526 Petition is the first step in the process by which an immigrant who invests in an EB-5 program can become a permanent resident of the United States. The initial I-526 Petition approval allows Mount Snow to access investors’ committed funds that were required to be held in escrow pending the first Petition approval.
“We are pleased that we received the EB-5 project approval, and look forward to the funds being released from escrow soon so that we can resume our Mount Snow development projects,” said Timothy D. Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Peak Resorts. “The master plan for Mount Snow is expected to enhance the overall visitor experience at the resort by bolstering snowmaking capacity and adding a new three-story, state-of-the-art ski lodge.”
Steve Mueller, chief financial officer, added, “During the upcoming summer season, we have a solid schedule of activities at our various resorts that will contribute to off-season revenues. We continue to explore alternatives to strengthen the long-term liquidity position of the Company.”