TIF could be part of Moosehead Lake ski resort project
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Development of a ski resort with year-round attractions on 1,700 acres overlooking Moosehead Lake in the unorganized territory outside of Greenville could include tax increment financing, in which new value goes back into the project.
A public hearing on the proposed TIF should be scheduled for early April — date and location to be announced.
“Since we met the last time, a lot of things have happened and things are moving fast,” developer Perry Williams of Spruce Head and Provident Resources Group of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told the Piscataquis County Commissioners during a March 23 meeting. The ski resort would replace the Big Squaw Mountain Ski Resort with new ski lifts, a hotel, marina, condominiums and more at the site that has fallen into disrepair.
Williams said the bank has given its go ahead for the chairlift to be ordered in May and installed later this year to be ready for the 2021-22 ski season.
“We have been working through all the building costs, the construction costs, the chairlift and snow making, everything,” he said.
The hotel, lodge, brew pub and other amenities could open after the winter of 2021-22.
The commissioners formally backed the project last month, and decided to support the developers seeking up to $135 million in bonds through the Finance Authority of Maine to finance the project.
The bonds would cover the costs of acquiring the property and designing, constructing and equipping the resort. They would also cover initial operating costs and some financing-related costs, according to the commissioners’ resolution.
Plans have been filed with the Land Use Planning Commission, Williams said.
Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Partner, Executive Vice President Andy Nelson said the state TIF program “allows us to designate a geographic area and what you’re doing is sealing in the value as it sits today.” He said the geographic area would be all 1,700 acres and include the mountain. The TIF would be in place for 30 years to match the bond terms.
“There’s no obligation for the county in any shape or form,” Nelson said. “We’re proposing 75 percent of new taxes go back to support credit for the bond market. You’re not losing any tax dollars.”
Currently about $20,000 in taxes is paid annually on the property in Greenville Junction.
Nelson said the plan is to gain tax exempt-status for the bulk of the project. The exception would be the housing parcels, totaling about 200 acres of the property.
“What we are asking for is a single TIF district around the whole project but the residential housing,” he said. “Seventy five percent of those taxes go back and support the bond for the larger development.”
Nelson said that should non-profit status not be designated for the resort site, the percent requested in the TIF would be 100 rather than 75 percent.
A public hearing would be held on the proposed TIF district, needing to be advertised at least 10 days in advance. Afterwards the county commissioners would vote on the program application — potentially at the Tuesday, April 20, meeting — which the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development would review for approval.
“It sounds like the project is on the way and we’re moving along, it’s very exciting,” Commissioners Chairman Jim White said.
The four-season resort development project has been called “an economic game changer” for the region. In addition to the county commissioners, it has garnered support from the Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corporation and the Eastern Maine Development Corporation.
The investment is expected to create 358 to 477 new jobs and result in $2.9 million annually in property taxes in Piscataquis County. Developers estimate 100 of the new jobs would be full time and approximately 120 people would be hired during the construction phase.
The Moosehead Lake Ski Resort would replace the Big Squaw Mountain Ski Resort, whose Florida-based owner, James Confalone, was sued by the state in 2016 for failing to maintain the property. The name of the mountain where the resort is located was changed years ago to Big Moose Mountain, but not the resort name.
Williams’ firm is in the process of buying the 1,700-acre property from Confalone.
The proposal calls for a four-season resort with new chairlifts, a new base lodge and brew pub, a 60-room hotel, expanded and improved trails, snowmaking equipment, an outdoor skating rink and a 150- to 200-boat marina on Moosehead Lake. In addition, the resort eventually would include 108 condominiums, 315 townhouses and 60 single-family homes.
County Manager Michael Williams said he has been speaking with the town of Grenville on fire coverage and trash services needs for the resort project. He also said he spoke with Sheriff Bob Young about the law enforcement coverage in and around the site.
Bangor Daily News’ reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this story.