QUEENSBURY -- West Mountain Ski Center’s owner has officially exited bankruptcy, with the “final decree” made public by the court Tuesday.
The development also means East Slope Holdings, which owns the ski center, is now owned by Apex Capital LLC, the firm that has been operating the ski center since mid-August under a lease agreement.
Spencer Montgomery, of Apex Capital, already started sketching ideas for developing the ski center, now that bankruptcy was removed as a barrier to investors.
He said Tuesday there’s a dry-erase board in his office on which he’s drawn some ideas for condominiums, time-share properties and other features near the triple-chair lift at the north end of the ski center’s property, which encompasses a total of about 370 acres along West Mountain Road.
“We’ve got a decent footprint, and it comes all the way out to West Mountain Road,” Montgomery said Tuesday. “You could have some higher-density (housing) in there — seasonal properties — and you could have, I think, a nice walking path/bike path that sort of went through a village-type center with shops, similar to what you see at other resorts.”
Montgomery said 75 to 80 condos or time-share units could be developed near the bottom of the mountain and along the lower portion of the AOA ski trail.
He cautioned all ideas are in the conception stage, and he envisions development happening over the next several years.
“And then, potentially the county or the town would be interested in some kind of hotel or conference center near the triple chair area as well, sort of like what you see at Windham (Mountain Resort, in the Catskills),” Montgomery added.
Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough said he’s hopeful West Mountain can become a bigger driver of the area’s economy.
“I think Spencer will do a good job bringing West Mountain forward, as long as the weather cooperates as it did this year,” Strough said. “I’m sure he’s working out the odds and ends to an even smoother operation in future years.”
As for the development ideas, Strough said he’d have to see something concrete before weighing in, but he thinks there’s potential for the property.
“I could see something like that (resort-style development) being successful, especially if Governor Cuomo sticks to his plan to bring skiers to our ski mountains,” Strough said.
Cuomo announced March 9 the creation of the I Ski NY Bus, a dedicated line that will carry residents from New York City to and from upstate ski centers, including West Mountain and Gore Mountain. The bus line is expected to start next winter, according to the governor’s announcement.
Previously, only Windham and Hunter mountains were consistently served by buses from New York City.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Spencer’s thoughts on (developing West Mountain),” Strough added.
The shift toward bottom-of-the-mountain development is a logical step, Montgomery said, because it would be easier than trying to bring plans for a mountaintop development to fruition. The latter proposal, in the works for decades, would require major investment to bring water, sewer and electricity infrastructure to the top of the Apex Capital-owned property, part of which lies in the town of Lake Luzerne.
The goal would be to turn West Mountain into a year-round resort destination, similar to Windham or Jiminy Peak, in Hancock, Mass., Montgomery said.
The ski center’s location, visible from the Northway between the resort communities of Lake George and Saratoga Springs, drives his optimism.
“It’s just perfectly situated to do a destination resort setting,” he said.
East Slope Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, citing debts of about $4.8 million and assets of about $1.8 million.
Montgomery started calling the shots for the ski center in mid-August, getting the venue ready for the ski season and ushering it through one of its most successful winters in years. Thanks to a strong winter, the mountain plans to continue welcoming skiers this weekend, with the final day of skiing planed for April 13.
Spring skiing hours can be found on the ski center’s website at westmtn.net.
Plans to add summer activities at West Mountain, including a previously proposed zip line ride and mountain biking events, are on hold for this year, Montgomery said.
Instead, he’s focusing his staff’s energy on improvements and preparations for the next ski season. While summer activities are still in the long-term plan, Montgomery said there are so many options for improving the ski center this year, anything else would be a distraction.