Want a tony ski resort? Elk Meadows bids restart Monday

High-end property » Once projected to be worth billions, the highest bid thus far is less than $1.5 million.
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Bids for shuttered Elk Meadows ski area have not come close to matching the suggested value of the southwestern Utah resort, but they show enough interest in the property that its online auction has been extended to Monday.

The LFC Group of Companies, a California-based online-auction company, moved the bid deadline back to 6 p.m. Monday after a bid of $1,480,000 was submitted for the 1,138-acre resort 18 miles east of Beaver.

It was the fifth bid for the resort, which was hyped earlier this decade as the next incarnation of Montana's exclusive Yellowstone Club, with multimillion-dollar homes, a private ski area and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Its total value was projected to be $3.5 billion.

But Mount Holly Partners, the Holladay-based developers, had trouble financing the ambitious project. Court records show it lost the resort in foreclosure to AMDS Holdings, a New York City company that had assumed a $19 million loan that Mount Holly Partners had defaulted upon in 2008.

Before the auction, LFC Group marketing director Kelly Lovegrove would not identify AMDS as the sellers, saying only that the owners wanted to "sell the property as fast as possible."

The highest sealed bid by the original Nov. 20 deadline was $1,051,000, slightly above the minimum acceptable bid of $1 million. A subsequent online bid of $1,160,000 that day kept the auction going.

Going up in $100,000 increments, three other filings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday raised the highest bid to $1,480,000 -- significantly below the property's suggested value of $5 million.

The owner has no obligation to sell Elk Meadows to the highest bidder if the final price is not satisfactory, Lovegrove noted.

She said potential bidders from as far away as India and Bulgaria had signed up for the online auction at www.lfc.com.

But many apparently are staying on the sidelines, frightened perhaps by the overall weak shape of the economy, the area's fairly remote location and problems experienced by previous resort owners.

Mount Holly Partners' proposal to turn the area into a gated community generated considerable ill will with area residents.

The developers also had trouble paying their bills. A full-disclosure document on the Web site said the property had liabilities of $429,000, including past-due real-estate taxes of $85,000.