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Decree ‘shuts the books’ on West Mountain bankruptcy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
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— West Mountain has officially emerged from bankruptcy and is now planning for the future.

Apex Capital has received a final decree on the ski area’s Chapter 11 filing last year and is now the formal owner of the property. Though West Mountain still owes roughly $1.5 million, the change in status means the new ownership can raise capital and seek additional investors for the venture.

“This shuts the books on the bankruptcy,” said Spencer Montgomery, a principal with Apex, a limited liability corporation. “We’re really regrouping at this point and considering all our options.”

Since the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings began in June, Montgomery said the ski area has settled with its unsecured creditors and restructured its debt load in order to greatly reduce the $4.8 million originally owed to creditors. He said the ski area will still have mortgage payments moving forward, but at a rate that won’t burden the business.

“It’s a manageable debt load,” he said.

Montgomery said the ski area also has secured roughly 1,600 acres of land at the top of the mountain that was in foreclosure. He said the land is a crucial component to the mountain’s long-range viability.

Under bankruptcy, Apex Capital leased 368 acres of West Mountain for $16,000 per month, with the proceeds going toward paying off some of the $2.12 million in secured claims.

The plan was aimed at keeping the mountain operational while working through its financial struggles.

Apex invested roughly $600,000 into the business over the past year. Montgomery said the cash infusion allowed the company to repair machinery, refurbish lifts and spruce up the lodge for the season. “We’ve really tried to reorient the ski center toward being a family-oriented place and that’s what we’d like to continue doing,” he said.

Under the bankruptcy plan, West Mountain was able to break even this season — something that even Montgomery thought would be a bit of a long shot. He said Apex originally estimated the mountain could lose upward of a half-million dollars this season.

“Realistically, a victory would be covering our cost of operation,” he said.

The arctic blast that hit the mountain this winter certainly helped. With the exception of a couple weeks of thaw in January, Montgomery said the mountain was able to stay open throughout the winter and into the spring. West is closed midweek but says on its website that it plans to reopen Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week and next.

“We had a good season,” Montgomery said. “The weather was great and we had a good crew of people to get the place open.”

 
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