Sales agent - Some seem interested in buying Whitetail

July 25, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Inquiries continue to come in to a consulting firm hired to sell the Whitetail ski resort near Mercersburg, Pa., but no one's made a bid yet, according to the agent handling the property.

John Robinson, of the McShane Group in Timonium, Md., said he expects to see at least four bids before the July 30 deadline.

"We don't expect any to come in until the last day. People are still calling in for information," he said.

It will take about 10 days for a contract to be signed after an offer is accepted. Closing should occur within 45 days after that, he said.

Robinson declined to speculate on what the current owners, an investment group, will do if none of the bids is high enough to pay off the resort's debt.


"Someone will be operating the ski resort," said Robinson.

The bid package includes the ski slopes, buildings and equipment and 600 acres of residential development land, but not an 18-hole golf course and convention center being built on an adjacent 250 acres by the Dauphin County General Authority of Harrisburg, Pa.

The Mercersburg General Authority tried to buy the resort last month, but was forced to give up when it became obvious it would not be able to sell much more than half the $45 million in bonds it needed.

Buyers can now offer sealed bids on just the ski resort, the resort and the land or the whole area, including the golf course, although sale of the golf course is unlikely at this time.

The golf course and convention center are for sale, but not actively, said Gregory J. Ricci, executive director of the Dauphin County General Authority.

Also excluded from the bid package are town homes and condominiums being built on land sold to private contractors adjacent to the ski resort. Many units have already been sold to individual buyers, said Rachel B. Nichols, spokeswoman for Whitetail.

She said sales slowed somewhat with the news that Mercersburg General Authority pulled out, but the builders feel confident sales will pick up again once a permanent owner is secured.

The golf course and convention center are expected to be completed late next summer, Ricci said. Both are expected to operate independently of the ski resort. "If you build a convention center, you must build a golf course, but a conference center and a ski resort don't go together."

Whitetail lost money in the three seasons before last year, mostly due to warm winters. It showed a profit in the 1998-99 ski season, she said.

Nichols said most of the resort's 40 full-time employees were laid off after the Mercersburg group pulled out, leaving only a skeleton crew of eight people to keep a fly fishing school, guide business and mountain bike operation going through the summer.

"We've been giving tours to potential buyers. This is too good a facility to sit idle for long. We've built up too good a reputation over the years," said Nichols, who is on part-time status.

The Herald-Mail Articles