Jiminy Peak sold to Florida group
According to Jiminy Peak CEO Brian Fairbank, while the ownership of the property will change, the management of the resort will remain in the same hands and no jobs will be lost as a result of the transaction.
The sale includes a 40-year lease/operation agreement to Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort LLC, which has been operating the resort and is owned by some of the same partners that sold the mountain.
Fairbank said the deal has been in discussion since May 2008, and was concluded late Tuesday afternoon. He has been involved in operating the resort since 1969 and has been at least part owner of the mountain since the mid-1970s.
At the time of the sale, Fairbank held a 50 percent stake in the mountain, with Boston businessman Joseph O'Donnell holding the other 50 percent.
Fairbank was scheduled to announce the sale to the staff at a 7:15 a.m. meeting today and to the public at a press conference later in the day.
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort LLC, the resort management company, is owned by Brian Fairbank, his son Tyler Fairbank and O'Donnell.
"As Jiminy Peak celebrates its 60th ski season this winter, we are pleased to add this family-favorite mountain resort to our portfolio," said Byron Carlock, president and CEO of CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. in a prepared statement. "As this year's record number of 71,000 skier visits thus far indicates, Brian Fairbank has done an admirable job of creating an award-winning destination. We are pleased to support Brian and Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort LLC in their ongoing management of the mountain resort."
Fairbank said the deal "allows us to have the benefit of a long-term capital partnership while maintaining business as usual in the way the mountain is run as we accommodate the large regional audience driving to see us."
Under the agreement, the Jiminy Peak operating company will make monthly lease payments of an undisclosed amount to CNL. Jiminy will be required to make annual investments in the physical plant, pay the cost of operating the resort, and will keep any profit.
Part of the proceeds of the sale will be used to pay off any capital debt owed by the resort, such as the wind turbine installed in 2007, or the cost of the construction of J.J.'s Lodge in 2005.
Brian Fairbank said he had been wrestling with the future prospects of the resort. At 63, he was concerned that the longevity of the operation might be compromised upon his retirement.
"I had been wondering 'What am I going to do when I hang up my spurs?'" Fairbank said during an interview Tuesday. "Am I going to retire, am I going to sell the place? Am I going to work another 40 years until I'm 103? I don't think so. Do I want to spend my entire life continuing to be in debt to the banks? No."
He said he didn't want the operation to fall into the hands of an unknown entity and felt the best course of action was to keep it under the management of his family. But financially, that scenario would not be feasible. So the sale and lease arrangement became the most desirable course.
"(This deal) helped me to solve the problem provide an opportunity for (my son) Tyler to buy out a management operating company over time. Jiminy could stay on track with the Fairbank family, and the next generation could go on without the disruption that I'd been concerned about," Fairbank said.
Jiminy Peak has been a fixture in the Berkshires for more than 60 years and one of the largest seasonal employers, with roughly 950 employees at the heart of ski season, 150 year-round.
Brian Fairbank has shepherded the operation from a small local ski attraction to the largest ski resort in southern New England, featuring 44 trails, nine lifts, three terrain parks, a summer adventure park, two restaurants, three cafeterias, three retail shops, more than 300 condominiums, a 105-room mountainside hotel and a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine.
Last year, Jiminy Peak hosted 350,000 skiing, lodging, conference, wedding, and summer adventure park guests.
CNL is a real estate investment trust that owns 115 recreation and lifestyle properties.
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