$43 million deal with SP Land, Co. was made possible in part by TIF
By Polly Mikula
On Wednesday, May 3, Great Gulf and SP Land Co. finalized the purchase and sales agreement for 1,095 acres of development land including the Six Peak Village at the base of Snowshed and Ramshead at Killington Resort.
The sales price was $43 million, according to Town Clerk Lucrecia Wonsor, who received the official documents and was in the process of recording them late Wednesday afternoon. The deed was between SP Land Co and GG Killington LP.
“We have had the pleasure of meeting many of the Killington townspeople over the past months which confirmed that this was the perfect community to realize our passion and vision for this project,” Michael Sneyd, president of the Resort Residential Division of Great Gulf, stated Wednesday. “This is indeed an important milestone that we have achieved collectively and are proud and excited to make Killington one of the premiere locations in North America.”
A village at the base of Killington Resort has been planned since the earliest days of Killington. Founder Preston Smith’s drawings even included a gondola connecting the Wobbly Barn in town, locals remembered. Since then at least half a dozen plans have been made by various resort operators, but all have fallen through.
Now, the proposed Six Peaks Village is all but a certainty — with Act 250 permits secured and a plan to build the necessary municipal infrastructure (a municipal water system and improved Killington Road) to support it. Residents of Killington voted overwhelmingly to support the municipal investments financed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) at Town Meeting Day, March 7 with 75% of the voters approving it.
“Financing for the development of the village would not be possible without the big public investment in the road and water infrastructure,” Sneyd told the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) last year on May 26, 2022 — the first time he and Great Gulf were introduced as the likely developer.
“Following the Town Meeting Day vote, this land transfer was the most critical first step to pave the way for this exciting project in Killington,” Sneyd stated after the sale.
“When I started at Killington more than 20 years ago, the village discussion was already under way and we are ecstatic to see this project finally come to fruition,” said Killington Resort President and General Manager Mike Solimano. “I’m confident we have found the best partner in Great Gulf. They have enough resources to execute on the plan unrelated to the ups and downs in the real estate market. Plus, they are skiers who truly care about the present and future of Killington Resort, and there is a real willingness to agree on things to make this happen,” Solimano stated.
With the TIF bond vote secured and purchase now complete, Sneyd expressed his gratitude to all who helped the pieces come together. “We would like to thank the town of Killington Select Board and staff, the Killington Resort team, the Rutland Region Chamber & Economic Development leadership, the Vermont Economic Progress Council, and the residents of Killington for their unwavering support in welcoming us to Killington,” he stated May 3.
History of Killington Resort ownership
Killington Resort opened on Dec. 13, 1958. In November 1984 it became a publicly traded company —S-K-I Ltd. (Sherburne-Killington-Investments).
In 1996, LBO Enterprises Corp., owned by Leslie B. Otten, bought Killington Resort as a package with three other S-K-I resorts including Mount Snow/Haystack, Sugarloaf, and Waterville Valley — for $137 million. The company then renamed itself American Skiing Company (ACS). Later that year ACS purchased Pico for $5 million.
Just over a decade later, in 2007 ASC announced it would sell Killington and Pico to SP Land Company for $83.5 million. SP Land Co., an affiliate of Texas-based private equity fund E2M Partners LLC, formed in 2004 when ASC had to restructure its real estate related debt. In that deal, SP Land acquired most of the developable land at the base of the resort. SP Land Company then formed a joint venture with Powdr Corp. to own and operate the resorts.
The 2007 purchase included all resort-owned operations, all of Killington/Pico’s resort-owned real estate assets and The Wobbly Barn restaurant — plus approximately $5 million debt and other liabilities.
The price was the highest ever paid for a New England ski resort, according to an article titled “As Big Company Sells Resorts, Hopes Rise for a Northeast Revival” in the Boston Globe March 22, 2007.
Great Gulf’s current purchase for $43 million includes all the land formerly owned by SP Land and the associated development rights. It does not include any recorded venture with Powdr Corp.
The village plan
The planned Six Peak Village has its Act 250 permit for over 32,000 square feet of commercial space and approximately 239 new units of housing — consisting of condos, townhomes, and single-family homes.
“The village will be a hub of activity,” said Solimano. “Whether it’s something like ice skating or concerts, this will give people in the area a great place come together and hang out, not to mention improving the availability of real estate and infrastructure in the Killington region.”
The first phase of the development is conservatively estimated to add at least $285 million of new taxable value to Killington’s Grand List, which would cover the TIF bond payments on the planned municipal infrastructure (those payments are separately guaranteed in a development agreement between the town and Great Gulf).
The Act 250 permit decision also contained “associated partial findings … in connection with proposed development of subsequent phases of the Killington Village Master Plan for the long-range development of an additional 2,107 housing units and 169,000 square feet of additional retail development,” according to the permit on file with the state.
Sneyd has also hinted at other ambitious development plans both for the village (including large scale events and concerts) as well as developments elsewhere in town, including the possibility of an expanded 32-hole golf course and a water park.
“We are excited to be developing Killington,” he’s said many times of the potential Great Gulf sees in the area.
But first thing is first. Groundwork for the new municipal water system will begin this summer with Phase 1 bringing water to the proposed Six Peaks Village. Sale of Six Peaks Killington are projected to begin as early as the next ski season 2023/2024. A specific timeline for construction of the Six Peaks Village is unknown, but based on pre-sales this fall construction could begin as soon as 2-3 years.