Posted: Feb 22, 2012 11:03 AM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX News)
Updated: Feb 22, 2012 9:03 PM
MISSOULA- No one was even in the ballpark Wednesday morning as the land for the proposed Bitterroot Resort sells at a sheriff's auction for $22.5 million.
The sale came off without surprises as the holding company for Metropolitan Life moved to declare owner Tom Maclay in default of the extensive loans he'd taken out in hopes of developing his family's ranch into a destination resort at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley.
Maclay first proposed converting the ranch his family has owned since the 1800s into the resort seven years ago. But the project ran into problems, especially in trying to get permits to use U.S. Forest Service land on the slopes of Lolo Peak for alpine ski runs. He had hoped to develop the ski runs, with summer mountain bike trails, along with a golf course and 2700 home sites.
But with the project stalled, Metropolitan Life's affiliate, MLIC Asset Holdings LLC, foreclosed on the loan two years ago setting up Wednesday's court-ordered auction.
Two additional bids were received, one from a local activist for $1000 and a second from another property owner for $1 million.
But MLIC's attorney gave the winning bid at $22,500,543.56. That starts a one year period in which Maclay can exercise the "right of redemption", by coming up with a way to satisfy the debt and hold on to the family ranch.