An organization that wants to reopen Rangeley’s Saddleback Mountain hopes to get the mountain’s current owners back to the negotiation table after the CEO of the resort’s prospective buyer was arrested in Australia on fraud charges Thursday.
The Saddleback Mountain Foundation wants to buy the mountain and has “been working on our financing and funding package for the last several months,” Crystal Canney, executive director of the nonprofit, said.
The current owners of the mountain, Bill and Irene Berry, began seeking a buyer in 2015. At the time, they said the resort would need at least $3 million in investment.
The couple last summer announced a deal to sell the resort to the Australian Majella Group, led by CEO Sebastian Monsour, but the deal has not closed. Monsour was arrested and charged with defrauding a Chinese investor on Thursday, according to the Brisbane Times.
It’s not clear what impact the charges against Majella’s chief executive will have on the pending purchase of Saddleback, but Canney said her group sees an opportunity to get the Berry family back to the table.
“We see a path that can work but it will be a combination of funding sources,” Canney said. “The foundation is prepared to speak to the Berry family.”
The Berry family and Saddleback general manager Chris Farmer were not immediately available Thursday afternoon.
Canney declined to release further details about the nonprofit’s plans, including how much money it plans to raise.
The nonprofit in late 2016 launched an unsuccessful $4 million fundraising effort to try and reopen the mountain. It raised a little over $1 million, Canney said, and the money was returned.
Canney’s group isn’t the only one that’s expressed interest in the ski mountain shuttered since the 2015-2016 ski season.
The Boston-based Arctaris Capital Partners in February told state officials that it would invest $25 million in the mountain if Gov. Paul LePage selected the area to receive new federal tax breaks. LePage did not pick the Rangeley area.
Arctaris’ general partner, Jonathan Tower, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
Canney also petitioned LePage’s administration to designate Rangeley as an Opportunity Zone, estimating that its restart of the mountain could create at least 300 jobs, and offering year-round recreation she wrote “could potentially more than double employment in this region.”
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