|By Joe Estrella, The Idaho Statesman,
BoiseMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 10, 2010 --Tamarack co-owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug has concluded that somebody else will have to breathe life into the resort he built and hoped to finish.
Boespflug said a bankruptcy judge's decision Friday to allow Tamarack Resort LLC to convert its liquidation case to a reorganization case will buy time to find somebody willing to pay for the stalled project. And that will ensure creditors owed more than $314 million will receive part of their money back.
"This provides hope that we can find a resolution that is favorable to everybody and gets something to all the parties," Boespflug told the Idaho Statesman.
The conversion -- from Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy law, which normally leads to straight liquidation, to Chapter 11, which normally allows a business to continue operating free from the threat of creditors' lawsuits -- may speed a sale, some local leaders say.
"If they converted it to a Chapter 11, then there must be a buyer in the wings," Cascade Mayor R.W. Carter said. "And the court probably knows who it is."
Valley County Commission Chairman Jerry Winkle said, "I hear there are two potential buyers."
Winkle said a sale of Tamarack -- even for less than what is owed to local creditors -- will be a lifeline for area contractors who are "owed an enormous amount of money and are holding on as best they can."
Carter said finding a new owner who will begin construction on the resort quickly is essential for the county, which has an 18 percent unemployment rate.
"People got used to Tamarack," he said. "It was like when the (Boise Cascade) mill closed when Tamarack shut down. It became like a Third-World country around here."
Boespflug hedged his bets, however, when asked if a sale would end his association with Tamarack.
"The new owner could want me to be part of his team," he said.
He noted that any sale would be at current market value, which with the economy in a slump will not generate enough to satisfy all the resort's debts. Those debts include more than $260 million owed Credit Suisse, a Swiss investment bank that foreclosed on the resort when Tamarack defaulted on its loan in 2008.
"It's going to be impossible to pay the creditors in full," he said.
Boespflug's attorney, Randy French, said Tamarack LLC will have at least 120 days to file its reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court. He said it's unlikely that Tamarack's creditors would try to immediately have the bankruptcy converted back to a Chapter 7 so that the resort's assets can be sold off to pay its debts.
"It's perfectly clear that nobody believes that they (creditors) would get more from a Chapter 7 than they would from a Chapter 11," French said.
Boespflug said Judge Terry Meyers could change the bankruptcy back to a Chapter 7 liquidation "if he thinks I'm wasting everybody's time."
"But as long as we show good faith, the judge has a lot of discretion to allow the debtor to remain in control of the situation," he said.
Boespflug said the proposed reorganization plan will revolve around raising enough money to cover continuing maintenance at Tamarack, legal fees and creation of a marketing plan designed to attract potential buyers.
He said he and his three partners in the Tamarack project, including Mexican businessman Alfredo Miguel Afif, will ask the bankruptcy court for permission to take on a new loan to come up with part of the funding. The loan would have to be paid back first from the proceeds of a sale of the resort. Boespflug declined to say how much of a loan he will ask the court to approve.
By late 2008, dozens of liens worth more than $20 million were filed against Tamarack by subcontractors who were never paid for work they did at the resort.
"I could use it. It's not like there is a lot of construction going on," said Marc Anderson, owner of Independent Metal Fab in Middleton.
He is still owed $67,000 for installing steel canopies, facades on storefronts, columns and connecting steel on structures. That does not include $1,800 a month Anderson spent from January to June 2007 for housing his crew at Tamarack.
Joe Estrella: 377-6465
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