Once ballyhooed as the next great gated resort community -- projected value $3.5 billion -- southwestern Utah's Elk Meadows ski area is on an online auction block.
Its suggested value now -- $5.15 million.
The LFC Group of Companies, an online real-estate auction firm based in Newport Beach, Calif., will accept sealed bids until 6 p.m. (MST) Nov. 20 at on behalf of an unidentified seller. For sale is 1,138 acres of mountainside 18 miles east of Beaver, home to a ski resort that has not operated since 2000-01 season. But in the middle of this decade, it was being touted as Utah's version of Montana's Yellowstone Club, with multimillion-dollar homes, private ski runs and a Jack Nicklaus golf course.
None of that ever materialized. In July, Mount Holly Partners, the Holladay-based company that trumpeted the grandiose plan, filed for a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
But one of Mount Holly's primary investors, MHU Holdings of New York City, objected to the filing, precipitating lawsuits and countersuits that ultimately led to a negotiated settlement. In the end, the bankruptcy petition was dismissed last month after the two main parties in Mount Holly Partners agreed to turn over all of their interests to MHU Holdings, whose affiliate, AMDS Holdings, foreclosed on the property in April.
That foreclosure was based on AMDS Holdings having assumed a $19 million loan Mount Holly Partners defaulted on in 2008, according to disclosure documents on the online auction Web site (www.lfc.com). The disclosure form noted that the property also is saddled with current and future liabilities of up to $429,6000, including past-due real estate taxes of $85,000.
Although LFC marketing director Kelly Lovegrove said she could not identify AMDS Holdings as the seller, she noted that "it's a group that wanted to move quickly in selling the property. ... Our focus is to try to sell the property as fast as possible at the best price."
Lovegrove said there have been 5,800 hits on the Elk Meadows entry on LFC's Web site and that 85 potential purchasers have registered to participate in the auction.
"I'm not sure if anyone has gone out to walk it. They might be willing to purchase it sight unseen," she said.
In a news release, LFC's description of the property erroneously said it was just an hour from Logan, "a city of 125,000 people," and described sleepy Elk Meadows as "for 25 years, the secret getaway for skiers and snowboarders looking to escape the mammoth crowds of Salt Lake City and Park City ... a popular destination for vacationers from southern Utah, Southern California, Phoenix, Arizona and northern Nevada."
But it accurately noted that "this non-operational ski resort needs work, and the low minimum bid of $1 million reflects that reality. ... Elk Meadows is a project that requires vision and persistence."
Interest in the auction has been expressed from as far away as Bulgaria and India, Lovegrove said, reflecting the Internet's ability to expand the exposure of properties.
"The buyers are out there," she added. "You just have to throw out a big-enough net to get them in."
Bidders registered at www.lfc.com must submit a $50,000 deposit, along with sealed bids, by 6 p.m. (MST) Nov. 20.
The seller may convert the process into an open-bidding auction if multiple suitors are still making offers. The seller can refuse to accept any and all offers.
Unsuccessful bidders get their deposits back, minus a $250 fee.