Developers postpone Haystack Club project

Posted

Thursday, January 11
WILMINGTON -- It was a short honeymoon for the Haystack Club.

The private, upscale four-season resort broke ground in September and closed up shop on Wednesday.

But it may only be temporary hiatus, said David Dillon, president of the private corporation that bought the 400-acre property for $5 million from Mount Snow in 2005.

"We've had a tough go this winter," he said. "It's a postponement, not a termination."

The company laid off half of its 23 employees on Wednesday. The job cuts came from the sales department and "gatehouse" staff. All were full-time positions with benefits -- some with "very good salaries," said Dillon.

The Deerfield Valley has taken it on the chin this winter and businesses in Wilmington and Dover are having a hard time hanging on.

There just aren't the number of tourists visiting because of the unseasonable weather, Dillon said. That means fewer people from Boston and New York with a lot of money to join the exclusive resort are here to take tours and look over plans for luxury mountainside homes and condominiums.

But the developers, 1 Cornell Inc., plan to revisit -- and perhaps scale back -- their ambitious five-year, $450 million plan over the next eight or nine months, Dillon said.

The uncertainty of the recreational and real estate markets will be big factors in how the owners move forward, he added.

In whatever incarnation, that would push back a grand opening to winter 2008.

The owners plan to continue to pursue permits and infrastructure work will also continue, Dillon said.

Although the initial interest in the club has been "very good," Dillon said the club has yet to sell any of the four homes now under construction. Nor would he say how many memberships have been sold.

Haystack was poised to become Vermont's second private ski area, after the "semi-private" Bear Creek Club in Plymouth.

Haystack planned to sell 900 memberships and has permits to build 450 units.

Owners said the club would be a boon to the local economy and pledged more than half of the profits, if there were any, would go to chairty.

Marketing for Haystack touted 100 percent snowmaking coverage, six chairlifts, mountainside villas, condominiums, hotel, a huge lodge featuring fine dining, a 7,000 square-foot spa, ski valet and business center, a 35,000 square-foot children's lodge, an 18-hole golf course and an equestrian center.

There were even plans for a helicopter landing pad.


Sabina Haskell can be reached at shaskell@reformer.com or (802) 254-2311, ext. 106.


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