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Ski 2020: Long-awaited Tamarack Village, returned ski lift to highlight season

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The history of Tamarack Resort near Donnely is long and winding.

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But in their second season of ownership, new owners Imperium Blue hope to continue making improvements to the still-new resort borne of decades-old dreams.

The big headline for skiers and boarders this ski season will be the reinstallation of the Wildwood lift. This summer, helicopter crews hoisted 18 lift towers into place on the mountain. The work replaced the lift, which stopped running in 2009. Bank of America later removed it.

[Long-envisioned marina on Lake Cascade closer to reality; Tamarack hopes to operate it]

Adding back the chair will open up another 200 acres of skiable terrain on West Mountain. The quad-chair detachable lift runs just more than a mile up the hill and will bring visitors from the base to the top in just about 5 minutes and 30 seconds, according to the resort.

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The opening date for the lift is up in the air. Resort officials will hold a “wood-sawing” ceremony in place of a ribbon cutting on opening day for the new chair.

Tamarack Village (finally) set to open

Tamarack is also getting back into the real estate game. It offered up 56 condo residences in the Tamarack Village, which it hopes to complete next month. The Village is a long-delayed project, with work first starting in 2008. Crews put down their hammers in 2009 and the unfinished project froze in time for nearly a decade as Tamarack suffered a whole series of economic and legal challenges.

Imperium Blue restarted construction last spring, a requirement of its lease with the Idaho Land Board.

Tamarack Resort
Rendering of interior of a Tamarack Condo. Via Tamarack Realty

Upon completion, the village area will feature six buildings clustered around a central plaza. A total of 47,000 square feet of commercial space will provide room for potential coffee shops, restaurants, a wine bar and more. The village will also offer guest services for the ski resort. The buildings sit over a heated, below-ground parking facility.

Condos range from 480 square foot studios up to 2,427 square foot penthouses. Prices start at $349,000 reach as high as $1.8 million for the condos. Each condo will come furnished.

Tamarack Resort timeline

  • 1988: Valbois Resort first announced on West Mountain in Valley County. It is to have seven chairlifts, a 250-slip marina, an 18-hole golf course and more. Buildout would cost $61.6 million, according to the Associated Press at the time. The project eventually went bankrupt.
  • 1998: Mexican businessman Alfredo Miguel Afif purchases the Valbois assets and renames the project Westrock. It is now proposed to have 20 chairlifts, 3,460 housing units and a mountaintop village, according to the Wall Street Journal. The project is now estimated to cost $563 million.
  • 2002: The project is renamed Tamarack Resort. Jean-Pierre Boespflug is brought in as CEO.
  • 2003: Construction begins.
  • 2004: The ski resort officially opens at Christmas. Seven chairlifts are in operation, plus a hotel and other amenities.
  • 2005: President George W. Bush visits during the summer at the invitation of Secretary of the Interior and former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne.
  • 2006: The Osprey Meadows golf course opens. The Robert Trent Jones II-designed course opened and closed several times over the next decade.
  • 2006: Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf announce plans to develop a Fairmont hotel at the resort, with construction to being in 2007.
  • 2007: The resort’s condo offering sells out in one day, generating $140 million.
  • 2008: Bankruptcy is filed on February 20th.
  • 2009: On March 4th, Tamarack closes down.
  • 2009: Agassi and Graf cancel the hotel project.
  • 2010: The Tamarack Municipal Association begins operating the resort on a limited basis.
  • 2012: Bank of America removes one of the resort’s chairlifts.
  • 2016: The Tamarack Municipal Association acquires much of the land for the resort and the lease with the State of Idaho.
  • 2016: Maintenance on the golf course stops. It goes back to a natural state.
  • 2018: Deal reached by Imperium Blue to purchase assets of the resort.
  • 2019: Work restarts on the Tamarack Village.
  • 2019: Crews reinstall the Wildwood lift.

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