The buyer in a deal to reopen Saddleback has to finish raising $2 million so it can complete the sale of Maine’s third-largest ski area by the end of the year.

Arctaris Impact Investors, a Boston firm, signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with the Berry family in November to buy the ski area for $6.5 million. It plans to close the sale Dec. 23.

To meet that closing date, Arctaris has to complete a fundraising campaign, said Andy Shepard, the resort’s general manager.

So far, Arctaris has commitments for $1.7 million from local philanthropists, supporters and condominium owners. The company gave itself until Dec. 16 to raise the money through a nonprofit called the Saddleback Mountain Foundation.

“We need that $2 million in order to close, we also need that $2 million to demonstrate to all these investment partners that we are capable of raising that money within the community,” Shepard said. “We are also confident it will happen and are not anticipating any problems.”

Saddleback has been closed since 2015 and will require a serious cash infusion to meet Arctaris’ goal of reopening by December 2020.

The company plans to invest $38 million in the ski resort to upgrade lifts, the lodge and potentially develop more housing and lodging. The firm wants to redevelop the resort as a four-season destination and an economic engine for western Maine. Before it closed, Saddleback was one of Franklin County’s biggest employers.

Arctaris has pledged to put $28 million into the project. The company plans to get $5 million from the New Markets Tax Credit program designed to encourage investment in low-income communities and raise $5 million from local donors.

If it  completes its present fundraising goal, Arctaris is up against a Jan. 31 deadline to raise another $2 million in equity for the tax credit deadline, according to a November letter sent to prospective donors.

Arctaris has an eight-year plan to redevelop the ski resort. It plans to first replace the Rangeley double chairlift with a fixed-gear quad. The aging chairlift was slow, did not have the capacity to handle large crowds and malfunctioned often. It is now unsafe and cannot be recertified, Arctaris said.

The firm also plans to install a new T-bar, repair another chairlift and add new lifts starting in year five.

Saddleback reached a peak of 120,000 skiers, in the 2010-2011 season. Before its closing, traffic was closer to 80,000 people a season, Arctaris said. The company wants to grow that to 200,000 visitors a year.

To do so, it intends to give the main lodge a facelift, fix a damaged roof, and add seating and kitchen space in its restaurant. An on-mountain hotel, new condominium development and offseason amenities like mountain biking, a mountain roller coaster, hiking and wedding or event space also are under consideration.

“Arctaris has been clear about their interest in opening Saddleback as part of a larger community and economic development initiative,” Shepard said.

The company intends to work on initiatives to solve a number of the region’s challenges including affordable housing, workforce development, transportation and affordable, quality daycare, he added.

“All of these initiatives will help encourage young families to move back to the area, which will also help provide workforce at the mountain,” Shepard said.


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