After numerous bumpy detours, the much troubled Snowshoe Inc., ski and second home development here seems to be back on the track.
Opened in December 1974, the project was forced by a cash flow crisis to file for a Chapter X bankruptcy in its first year. During the second winter, the ski facilities were leased for operation - well after the snow season had started - to Murray Dearborn, manager of the Canaan Valley resort near Davis, W. Va., about 70 miles to the northeast.
Last winter, another last-minute lease was obtained from the bankruptcy court trustee by Franklin Burford, a millionaire coal mine owner in Elkins, W. Va.
Federal Judge John Copenhaver of the District Court in Charleston has now approved a reorganization plan submitted by Burford and five partners. It involves their investment of $800,000 in new capital, plus a $2.5 million personal loan to Burford from the Charleston National Bank. The new company also assumes nearly $5 million in existing debt.
In anticipation of an earlier favorable court ruling, construction was started in March on housing at the mountain-top entrance.
"We had to stop in early May when it appeared our proposal would be rejected," Burford said. "Additional creditor demands complicated matters so much we feared a negative decision. But then the bank loan apparently saved the day. It has been a real cliff-hanger."
Work has now resumed on the following:
Spruce Lodge, a 100-unit economy hotel (two double-deck bunks per room).
Timberline Lodge, a 50-unit first class hotel.
Alfredo's, a 100-seat gourmet restaurant.
The Shamrock, an 80-unit condominium complex.
Eight private modular homes. (Burford is also building his own chalet just outside the property).
Five new ski runs.
Also slated for completion before next winter are expansion of the snow-making system, including a new water impoundment lake, and increased spaces in the existing day lodge for the ski patrol, the ski and apparel shop, and the information and reservations services.
Snowshoe has 100 miles of cross-country ski trails and five miles of downhill runs. Its 1,500-foot vertical drop is the greatest at any ski area south of upper New York and New England.
Land sales, which were stopped in March 1975, are expected to resume next month following approval by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sixty of the Shamrock condos were sold before the bankruptcy.
Snowshoe Inc., the new owner, plans to honor the special ski ticket and land price discounts promised to original purchasers by the founding company.
The original prospectus envisioned a $90 million development. "Our long range plans go well beyond that figure," Burford asserts. "But first, we want to establish a track record of several years of sound fiscal operations."