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Silverleaf buys Brodie for $2.6 million

By Glenn Drohan
12:00AM / Thursday, August 05, 2004
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NEW ASHFORD — Silverleaf Resorts, the Dallas-based corporation that owns the Oak N’ Spruce time-share condominum complex in Lee, is poised to build 332 more here, after buying the former Brodie Mountain Ski Area for $2.6 million. In a deal that took well over a year to complete due to questions about infrastructure and building height, among other things, Silverleaf closed the sale on July 16, acquiring the 589-acre property from FO Ski Resorts, whose president is Brian Fairbank of Hancock, according to documents at the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Adams. Building Inspector Vincent Lively Jr. said yesterday that Silverleaf plans to build 28 three-story buildings on the Brodie site, each containing an average of 12 condominiums, which will be sold as time-shares to vacationers. The entire project has been estimated at $41.8 million. “It was a long time coming, but I think it’s going to be a nice project,” Lively said. “The Planning Board spent a lot of time working on it, and I’m sure it will be in the best interest of the town.” He said engineer Vincent Guntlow of Williamstown plans to begin work on infrastructure this summer, but construction of the condominiums may not begin until next year. Silverleaf officials did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman said the company would be issuing a news release later this week. Fairbank, owner of the nearby Jiminy Peak resort, had first disclosed a pending condominium deal in March 2003, without revealing the developer. The following month, Silverleaf announced it would build the project, to be called the Snowy Owl Resort. The company said at the time that the resort would yield a minimum of $212,000 in annual property taxes once all condominiums were competed, in an estimated 10 to 15 years. Planners estimated the project would also have an impact of about $3.65 million annually on the Berkshire economy, including a $1.4 million payroll. Sally Johnstone, Jiminy Peak director of marketing, said Tuesday that Jiminy, which closed the Brodie area to skiing in 2002, would continue to operate a snow-tubing operation there this winter. Beyond that, she said, she could not say. Jiminy will lease the land from Silverleaf. According to Lively, Silverleaf may revive Fairbank’s abandoned plan to create a water park at Brodie, although he did not know whether the company planned to make it available for public use or for its customers only. Lively said Silverleaf acquired the necessary building permit for the time-share project this March but was not able to proceed with the deal until getting a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals in June from a requirement to install elevators in the three-story buildings. The board granted the variance because the buildings will not be classified as hotels or motels, and enough ground-floor units will be accessible to the handicapped. The Planning Board reviewed the project extensively and used a consultant hired at the expense of the developer. The plan must follow the criteria of the town’s resort bylaw, which was developed when Fairbank had proposed a much bigger development after purchasing the ski area from J.W. Kelly Enterprises with a partner in 1999. His plan had a one point included a hotel, water park, fitness center, retail establishments and a restaurant. He said last year that he had to “abandon” his dream because he could not find interested co-developers to help finance it. The Silverleaf proposal announced last year contained no mention of retail establishments, and the company had planned for it to be a private community, for customers only. Three tennis courts, two swimming pools, a miniature golf course, a picnic area, a playground and other amenities were included. The orginal plan had called for a groundbreaking in the summer or fall of 2003 on the first phase of the project, which was to have included 36 condominiums. All 332 condominiums were envisioned as two-bedroom units sold for one-week or two-week intervals. Some local officials said at the time that the resort would provide an opportunity for local spin-off businesses. Silverleaf has had a stormy relationship with the town of Lee, where it had tried unsuccessfully for years to add 240 condominiums to the 140 in its resort there. Last week, the Lee Selectmen finally approved a special permit by Silverleaf to construct 78 new time-share units. The proposal included imposing a conservation restriction on 207 acres of the 244-acre property. The New Ashford condominiums would also require a substantial area of that property to be restricted, under the resort bylaw and a special permit granted to Brodie in 2001.
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