Is The Canyons for sale? ‘Notice’ fuels speculation |

Is The Canyons for sale? ‘Notice’ fuels speculation

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Since the sale of all but one of its resorts and Park City-based American Skiing Company’s announcement that it is dissolving, there has been speculation about what is in store for The Canyons.

Concerns that the company’s last remaining resort may change hands were fueled when the Summit County Recorder’s Office received a "notice of interest" regarding several parcels within the resort complex that are owned by Wolf Mountain Resorts, the largest landowner at The Canyons.

Buyers interested in purchasing land often file notices of interest to make their intentions known. The 29-page document was filed on the Wolf Mountain property July 2 by a Delaware-based firm called Peninsula Advisors, LLC.

Last October, Wolf Mountain Resorts entered into "certain Transfer Agreements" with Peninsula Advisors, according to the notice of interest.

"Under the terms and provisions of the agreement, Wolf has agreed to contribute or sell the property to [Peninsula Advisors]," the notice of interest states.

Wolf Mountain Resorts owns much of the ski terrain and developable land at the resort, which the company leased to American Skiing Company when ASC opened The Canyons in the late 1990s.

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Leading up to the filing of a plan of dissolution for American Skiing Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ASC, parent company to The Canyons, sold seven of its eight U.S. resorts.

Once the largest owner of alpine resorts in the country, American Skiing will now turn its remaining assets over to Oak Hill Capital Partners, the Texas equity firm that is the majority shareholder in American Skiing Co.

Others who purchased common stock in American Skiing Company shouldn’t expect any return on their investments, executives at the company say.

Wolf Mountain Resorts Managing Partner Kenny Griswold said he can’t comment about whether plans to sell his land are being discussed with Peninsula Advisors.

The notice of interest doesn’t include 35 lots owned by Wolf Mountain in the so-called West Willow Draw subdivision at The Canyons.

Speculation about whether The Canyons would be sold began last year when Wolf Mountain tried to end American Skiing Co.’s lease at the resort by claiming the company was in default.

But American Skiing Company executives insist The Canyons is not for sale. Last year, about $10 million was invested into the resort, said Dave Hirasawa, director of financial analysis and investor relations for American Skiing Company.

"There are certainly rumors," Hirasawa said recently when asked if The Canyons is for sale. "If you live around town here, you have heard at least one over the last couple years. That has just never stopped."

ASC brass hope to resolve the lawsuit with Wolf Mountain concerning the lease dispute before any negotiations to sell the resort would begin.

"There has been a commitment to make sure The Canyons has the resources it needs to continue growing and attracting guests," Hirasawa said.

The Canyons has one of the strongest "growth stories" in the ski industry in the past several years, he added.

"It wasn’t uncommon for double-digit growth to happen many, many consecutive years in a row, and that’s rare," Hirasawa explained.