AP News

Swiss bank cleared to pursue resort sheriff's sale


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lender syndicate led by Credit Suisse Group could proceed quickly with its bid to take control of financially crippled Tamarack Resort assets now that an Idaho judge has refused a rival creditor's request to halt the Swiss bank's foreclosure lawsuit.

A bank spokeswoman in New York declined to comment Monday. But a Tamarack Municipal Association lawyer said a sheriff's sale could proceed this year, if Credit Suisse is eager to ask Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen to hold an auction on the courthouse steps in the tiny town of Cascade.

There, the lending syndicate represented by the Zurich, Switzerland-based bank would take a decisive step in winning control of assets that are security for its $300 million in claims, including ski lifts, an 18-hole golf course and more than 2,000 home sites.

"The timing of a sheriff's sale is largely at Credit Suisse's discretion," wrote Tamarack Municipal Association attorney Steve Lord, in a note to the homeowner's group obtained by The Associated Press. "Credit Suisse could have the matter to Sheriff Bolen and concluded in 60 days or less."

On Friday, 4th District Court Judge Patrick Owen in Boise declined a request from another creditor, Oregon-based Teufel Nursery, seeking to block Credit Suisse from advancing to a sheriff's sale.

Tamarack's woes date to 2008, when the bank-led lending syndicate sued after the resort's majority owner, Jean-Pierre Boespflug, defaulted on a $250 million construction loan.

Boespflug's plans for a $1.5 billion ski, golf and marina resort collapsed as the faltering economy pierced the vacation real estate bubble, his spending on construction outstripped his resources and no one would lend him new cash. The French native has since disappeared, likely fleeing the United States to avoid millions in unfavorable Tamarack-related judgments.

Even if Credit Suisse wins a speedy sheriff's sale, however, it's not the final answer to unraveling Tamarack's tangled finances. The process could take months or longer to complete.

Four additional Tamarack creditors with several million dollars' worth of separate claims are still awaiting Idaho courts' permission on their own foreclosure bids.

Those creditors — among them, a construction company and architecture firms that helped carve Tamarack from a mountainside 90 miles north of Boise — have claims to properties including the Village Plaza, the insulation-wrapped, would-be resort centerpiece, as well as half-completed condominiums and townhomes.

In the meantime, Tamarack has been run by a receiver, shuttered and then reopened as homeowners sought to protect their investments by keeping the ski and golf operations alive. They hope after the foreclosures are resolved, a new investor will buy the resort and complete unfinished projects.

One high-speed ski lift was removed this summer by its owner, Bank of America. The ski operation, financed by the Tamarack Municipal Association's 365 members, lost nearly $300,000 last season.

Despite that financial hit, the homeowner group's director, Tim Flaherty, said Monday he's gotten strong support to bankroll the ski season that starts in December.

"As a group, that's a very powerful statement," Flaherty said. "We're waiting for the next shoe to drop, and that is Credit Suisse's plan. Right now, it's a bit of a waiting game."


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