QUEENSBURY — Apex Capital officially became the new operator of West Mountain Ski Center on Thursday, and the new operators hope to have the reorganization plan hammered out and approved by December to get the ski center open for the season.
“Our intent is to be open this winter,” Apex owner Spencer Montgomery said Saturday.
From a West Mountain management and operational stand point, Apex Capital “parted ways” with former ski center owner Mike Barbone when the company took over, Montgomery said.
The reorganization process is complicated and nuanced because there were multiple limited liability corporations involved in the mountain’s ownership previously.
If Montgomery’s vision comes to fruition, a multi-faceted West Mountain endeavor could eventually mean major renovations to the ski center, the installation of a large zip line that would act as a draw during the summer and it could mean a major development moving forward on the backside of the mountain.
For years, the proposed Mont Luzerne development, slated to go on roughly 2,400 acres, has churned up controversy in Lake Luzerne. Apex Capital has purchased 1,400 of those acres so far, and Montgomery is working on the balance, he said.
There were about 500 acres of land across the top of the mountain that were in foreclosure, which Apex Capital paid off July 31. That was a major factor in moving forward because that parcel joins the ski center and the area where the development could go.
“I believe that solidifies the project for us,” Montgomery said.
He’d like to see some sort of a ski-in, ski-out community with condominiums and second homes on the land, it just may not be on as large of a scale as what was originally proposed in the Mont Luzerne project, Montgomery said.
The ski center itself is located on about 370 acres, Montgomery said.
He has prioritized some upgrades to the ski center, and would like to make some minor renovations this year. Eventually, he’d like to replace one specific chair lift that’s outdated, revamp the snow-making system and refurbish or replace the other lifts.
Montgomery estimated the changes he’d like to make will cost somewhere between $3 million to $8 million.
“It needs investment,” he said.
The new owners are interested in keeping the center’s school ski programs, and would like to see the ski center provide more of a year-round draw, and have discussed installing a zip line.
Over the past two summer seasons, Barbone has been bringing music festivals to the mountain in an effort to bring in more off-season revenue. The Freedom of Expression festival, scheduled for September, will most likely move forward because there was a contract in place, though Montgomery hasn’t yet talked to the organizers, he said.
He also plans to re-evaluate the type of festivals that are held at the ski center, he said.
The ski center’s owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. Apex paid close to $300,000 to aid in the ski center’s opening this year, and has so far invested more than $1 million, which includes paying off back taxes and mortgages that were in foreclosure, Montgomery said.
Apex Capital became the operator and worked out the reorganization plan rather than having the previous operator go through bankruptcy.