The purchase of Saddleback ski area will be delayed until early next year while a state finance agency reviews an application for debt insurance that the sale depends on.

Arctaris Impact Fund, a Boston investment group, planned to close the $6.5 million purchase of the shuttered Rangeley-area ski resort from the Berry family next week. The complicated deal would involve federal tax incentives, private investment, state loans and local philanthropy. Saddleback, which had been Maine’s third-largest ski area, has been closed for four years.

Because of the deal’s complexity, the Finance Authority of Maine asked Arctaris to put off discussion about enrolling in the state’s commercial loan insurance program until the agency holds its January board meeting, Jonathan Tower, the firm’s managing partner, said in a statement. Closing the sale depends on receiving state insurance.

Despite the delay, Arctaris intends to complete the purchase by the end of January under the same terms, Tower said in the statement.

“We view this delay as a brief pause in our path of the greater objective for Saddleback, and remain committed to closing the transaction,” he said.

Arctaris applied for $7.5 million in commercial loan insurance on a $14.2 million loan four months ago, FAME spokesman Bill Norbert said. Arctaris is not requesting loans from FAME.


The request and supporting information have changed since the initial application, Norbert added. The loan is intended to be used to purchase the ski resort and new equipment, including chairlifts to reopen it.

The state program insures the lender against certain potential losses, supported by the agency’s reserves and the full faith and credit of the state.

Arctaris is asking for the maximum insurance, and sources of funds for the project have different terms and conditions and include New Market Tax Credits, a complex federal program, Norbert said. The project also involves the restart and improvement of a business that has been closed since 2015.

A $1 million loan from Maine Rural Development Authority for the project is contingent on getting FAME loan insurance.

“It’s a very complex transaction, some things have changed, there are moving parts and FAME needs some more information from the parties,” Norbert said.  “The staff and the board need more time to consider this proposal.”

As Arctaris awaits the FAME board’s decision, it hopes to complete a $2 million fundraising push to close the deal.


“We believe we will hit our goal this weekend for fundraising, which we’re quite excited about. That shows the remarkable level of interest on the part of the community to help make this happen,” said Andy Shepard, a principal at the Haraseeket Consulting Group in Freeport who has been named general manager of the new resort should the sale go through.

After finishing that campaign, Arctaris wants to raise another $2 million to complete its tax credit transaction in January.

Arctaris intends to reopen the resort for the 2020-2021 season with updated ski lifts and plans to invest $38 million over eight years.

In a November fundraising plan, Arctaris said it planned to make Saddleback a year-round destination and expand the resort with a renovated lodge, offseason attractions, and possibly a hotel and residences. Saddleback, which is Maine’s eighth-highest mountain with an elevation of 4,120 feet, offers about 2,000 vertical feet of skiing.

The mountain reached a peak of 120,000 skiers in the 2010-2011 season. Before closing, it hosted around 80,000 people a season. Arctaris wants to grow that to 200,000 guests a year.

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