State and County Approve Moosehead Lake Ski Resort Financing
Developers can access up to $135 million for their Big Squaw proposal.
The proposed Moosehead Lake Ski Resort marked two milestones in the past week, as state and county stakeholders have approved financing mechanisms.
At a meeting last week, Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) voted to approve up to $135 million in financing for the Moosehead Lake Ski Resort project. Yesterday, the Piscataquis County Commissioners approved a tax increment finance (TIF) district for the project. The TIF would be in place for thirty years, matching the avoided taxes with the expected term of the bonds.
Big Lake Development Company, LLC is operated by Perry Williams of Spruce Head, Maine. Williams was previously employed by Majella in 2017 during its initial efforts to reopen Saddleback Mountain Resort. Provident Resources Group of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is working with Big Lake Development to procure funding for the once-estimated $75 million development. Provident has been primarily involved in educational and senior living developments. Though it does not have any ski development experience, it does claim to have facilitated the development of water parks.
According to the Piscataquis Observer, a new chairlift is expected to be installed for the 2021-22 season, with a hotel and lodge to follow for the 2022-23 season. The new development would be called Moosehead Lake Ski Resort, recalling its early 1990s Moosehead Resort name.
According to plans prepared in the spring of 2020, the upper base area would be redeveloped with a new hotel, base lodge, and brew pub built around a new quad chairlift. A new snowmaking system would be fed by Mountain View Pond, located below the area. Non-ski attractions would include zip lines and a marina. Real estate development would include 108 condominiums, 315 townhomes, and 60 houses. 358 to 477 new jobs would be created.
Big Lake Development Company, LLC reportedly entered into an agreement to purchase the 1,200+ acre Big Squaw property in 2019. Big Squaw has been owned since 1995 by James Confalone, who operated the entire ski area until a March 2004 upper chairlift failure. The lower mountain ceased operations in 2010, sitting idle until The Friends of Squaw Mountain restored it for the 2012-13 season. In November 2020, a state judge ordered Confalone to restore the upper mountain to operating condition and to pay a fine for illegal logging on the property.
Squaw Mountain debuted in 1963 as a T-Bar served ski area, expanding its vertical drop to 1,700 feet with the installation of a double chairlift in 1967. In 1974, Scott Paper Company gave the resort to the State of Maine, which struggled with it for a dozen years before selling it in 1986. The resort subsequently went through a series of owners and operators until Confalone acquired it.