Auction of Hermitage assets planned for March

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RUTLAND — An auction of Hermitage Club assets has been pushed back by about a month, giving more time for potential buyers to come forward or review deals they have proposed.

"Everybody's work extremely hard, tried to review things on the run," Raymond Obuchowski, Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, said last week in United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Vermont. "We found there's an alternative to speed dating: It's speed drafting, speed editing. We're not sure who's going to the dance yet but we do have two solid contracts."

Obuchowski said the initial bidders — Rainmaker Mountain LLC, which is connected to Geyser Holdings LLC and wants the former private ski resort at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, golf course and three inns; and Boyne USA Inc., which wants a six-person bubble chairlift known as the Barnstormer Summit Chairlift — would "begrudgingly" accept having an auction sale March 20. He originally proposed Feb. 25 after the two parties came forward with offers last month, but Judge Colleen A. Brown scheduled the later date as a way to provide more time for marketing the properties and for groups to complete their due diligence.

Rainmaker offered $4 million for the assets. Boyne, which owns and operates 10 ski resorts in North America, offered $3.6 for the chairlift with plans to relocate it to a resort in New England.

After their offers came communication from other potential buyers such as Bruce Waller, who offered $8.4 million for all the properties; a group made up of former Hermitage Club members, which plans to offer $8.25 million; AW Realty LLC's HSM Partners LLL, which intends to offer $8 million for the assets, and Gregory Samuels, who did not name any figures.

Brown is setting $50,000 increments for bids on the Hermitage properties Rainmaker wants and the chairlift sought by Boyne, or $100,000 increments for both. Those figures would "increase and maximize bidding," she said.

Brown applauded attorneys for "working hard" to iron out disputes that would allow the case to move forward. One such issue had been a deadline for removing the Barnstormer, but parties ultimately agreed that it could be June 30 or 30 days later if regulatory requirements interfered.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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