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Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. is expected to take control of the financially-strapped Taluswood townhouse development for about $15 million soon, a purchase price which would leave many creditors — including 62 local contractors — with nothing. However, Whistler Mountain President Doug Forseth said Wednesday the company has had discussions with the contractors and is "very cognizant of them, we want to deal with them, if we get this first phase done." The first phase is the deal itself. Lawyers were in court Tuesday and Wednesday to get an order to sell one piece of the property that was omitted from the original application. Eric Biagi of the accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand said Wednesday an order to sell 90 per cent of the property has been received. However, both Biagi and Forseth said a number of snags have developed in the last few weeks to stall the sale, so neither is making any predictions on when the sale will go through. More than $30 million is owed to creditors of the Taluswood project. However, the assessed value of the whole project has been set at only $17.87 million. Biagi explained the $12.58 million discrepancy by saying: "They just lost money. They owed a lot of money on the project; costs were not committed before construction began and site servicing cost a lot." Paul Macciocchi, a Toronto developer, wrote a letter to Coopers and Lybrand last week suggesting he had financing and was willing to pay $31 million for the Taluswood property, a price which would cover all claims against the property. However, Biagi said Macciocchi never made an offer to the receiver and his financing was never proven. Biagi also suggested the $17.87 million assessment of the Taluswood project may be slightly high. Coopers and Lybrand was appointed receiver by Whistler Mountain after the Bank of Montreal started foreclosure actions against the project last fall. Anyone who has equity in the project has a right to intercede and appoint a receiver after foreclosure is started. Whistler Mountain also solicited the appraisal. Biagi said five parties were interested in the Taluswood project but only two offers were received by the bid deadline. Whistler Mountain’s offer of about $15 million, which was received March 15, was the high bid. The Bank of Montreal is at the top of the list of creditors and is owed $6.7 million. Scott Oki is second on the list with a claim of $3.7 million. Whistler Mountain is third and is owed $7.28 million. The project is on land that Whistler Mountain owned. Chuck Dwight, the man who was instrumental in putting the original deal together, is fourth on the list with a claim of $250,000. Jeff Harbers is fifth and sixth on the list with claims of $3.25 million and $835,000. The MacIntosh family is seventh, with a claim of $4.62 million. At the bottom of the list of claimants are 62 contractors, mostly locals, owed $3.815 million. Assuming Whistler Mountain’s offer of $15 million is accepted only the Bank of Montreal, Scott Oki and Whistler Mountain would receive any money. However, Forseth said Whistler Mountain has had talks with all the claimants. Of the local contractors he reiterated: "It’s not our style to ignore them. I don’t think we’re going to turn our backs on them if the deal goes through." The contractors, who have formed an association, earlier issued a press release suggesting whoever buys the project will have to use local companies to finish the project or else face picket lines. Taluswood’s financial problems surfaced last September when construction on the second phase of the development was halted after a number of sub-trades had been unpaid for several weeks. Taluswood principal Rich MacIntosh made a number of efforts to re-finance the project last fall and early this year. Sources say a deal that would have paid everyone 90 cents on the dollar was put together at one point but one of the individual lenders scuttled the plan. The upscale Taluswood townhouse project was started in 1994 on the slopes of Whistler Mountain above the Nordic subdivision. The units offer ski-in, ski-out access and have sold for between $200,000 and $600,000. About 40 of the 56 units in Phase I were completed. The remaining units in Phase I and the 37 units in Phase II remain in various stages of construction, although no work has been done on any of the units for several months.

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